Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband (Republic)
Swedish electronic band Little Dragon has been the darling of the music industry with its talented lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano. The group’s fourth album may be their most refined and accessible. Nabuma Rubberband is like the weird girl who takes her glasses off and lets her hair down to project her unique sexiness. It’s a brilliant experimental ride through the somber and exhilarating. Nagano weaves through the sensually charged “Cat Rider” with confidence and then bends through emotional distress on the down-tempo “Mirror” to exceptional results. Sonically, the album blends together electronica with a smattering of soul. It’s just quirky enough to not be pegged as R&B but not too outside the box to be universally accepted. “Klapp Klapp” is the perfect example of this with its groovy bass line and synths wrapped around scattering drums and Nagano’s beautiful vocals. It’s not your normal single, but its differences are what could make it one of the best songs of the year. Little Dragon may not care whether we ever get on their bandwagon, but letting it go by without an attempt to ride would be criminal. ★★★★✩
Slaughterhouse, House Rules (Shady)
If there were ever a group that you’d want to run a lyrical relay in the rap Olympics, Slaughterhouse would be the obvious choice. The four-headed monster of Crooked I, Joe Budden, Royce da 5’9” and Joell Ortiz delivers punchy verbal gymnastics on the House Rules mixtape. But what makes this project stand out is the personal narratives each deliver. “Offshore” is a near 10-minute ride through each individual navigating the rough waters of the music business, and it’s a welcome break from the battle raps Slaughterhouse has been known to deliver. ★★★✩✩
The Roots, … And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (Def Jam)
The Roots may be the house band for Jimmy Fallon, but they still often fly under the radar because of their consistency when it comes to releasing albums. Their 11th studio album is just another feather in the cap as … And Then You Shoot Your Cousin shows their prowess in crafting a conceptual project. It’s a satirical look at stereotypes and American violence through the eyes of several characters. The bleak lyricism is surrounded by equally dreary production that works effectively in capturing the element. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is worth the taste. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming albums on Andreas’ radar …
JULY 1: Connecticut battle rapper Apathy is back again with Connecticut Casual. If he impresses again we have to start questioning why Atlantic Records never allowed him to flourish on a major label.
JULY 22: Bone Thugs N Harmony’s Krayzie Bone is still making solo albums. Yeah, I’m surprised, too. It’ll be interesting to see if his latest still harnesses the Ohio group’s fast rapping elements.