By: Neil MacAlister and Courtney Miller
Saturation II by Brockhampton
There’s always a fear that when an artist (or, in this case, a collective) drops too much music too quickly, that they’re diluting quality in favour of quantity. Brockhampton — a self-described “boyband,” consisting of rappers, singers, producers, and visual artists — dropped Saturation, their studio debut, this past June. Just two months later, they returned with Saturation II, and promised to release III before the end of the year.
Normally, this kind of output can prove destructive, but Brockhampton seems to be immune to the ails of their contemporaries. Saturation II is, at the very least, as good as its predecessor. It’s a little more aggressive, with more passion and vigor; the production is noisier, the wordplay is more intricate, the themes are darker, and, somehow, it’s even more personal. Each member of Brockhampton is becoming more comfortable with both their crafts and their identities: from Kevin Abstract’s frank declarations of his gayness, to Ameer Vann’s struggles to move on from a violent upbringing. Everyone in Brockhampton is worth listening to, and everything they’ve released thus far proves that they’re here to say. – NM
The Project by Lindsay Ell
Ell opens strongly with her radio hit, “Waiting on You” and it sets a fun tone for the album. While the guitar riffs do have that bit of country twang, Ell’s vocals don’t fall too far into that trap. Instead, her clear, strong voice merely lapses into a drawl that is both endearing and an excellent companion to the guitar.
There are poppier offerings as well, including “Champagne” which has a seductive bass line without that overproduced feel, and “Mint.” Her songs cross genres, pulling the best parts of country, rock, and pop into each song, and spitting out tune after tune of greatness.
If you just want something to listen to that’s mostly upbeat with some excellent guitar riffs thrown into the mix, and a genuinely fun time, this album is a solid choice. – CM
Waiting on the Sun by Jule Vera
Pop that doesn’t spend too much time being touched up in production offices is my jam, and Jule Vera delivers catchy lyrics, fun beats, and groovy melodies in their latest album. Their lyrics aren’t mindless drivel thrown into an effects box, but clever, relatable, and at times, thought-provoking.
What’s great about this band is, despite their age, they know what the music needs. At times they go for a minimal approach with just vocals and piano (“Something Good”), or vocals and drums (“10,000 Hours”). They know when to pull back and not try to do too much, a failing I often find in many pop acts.
Jule Vera does a great job of providing a track for any mood: “Running” is an energetic rock banger, whereas “Porch Swing” is nostalgia-driven minimalism of vocals and ukulele alone. Not to fret, if you need a piano ballad to pick up a record, “Waiting” will leave you more than satisfied. It’s a steady album, and a teasing taste of what Jule Vera is capable of. – CM