A new weekly roundup of what the CL team is listening to right now.
We Have Cause To Be Uneasy (2008)
This is one the most well-rounded albums I've heard in a long time. It came in a press packet to me last year, and my loyalty and love for this album has not faded since. In fact, while grocery shopping yesterday, it was all I listened to on my iPod and it made selecting vegetables a shit-ton of fun. The album is very deep lyrically, and I appreciate the diversity in the song selection. Some songs are surprising because the intro doesn't give you any indication of what the bulk of the song is going to sound like, other songs are slow but pick up at the end, and some songs simply rock out with screaming and drums. Warning: Don't listen to this album if you aren't in the mood to be forced to contemplate the meaning of life.
Recommended tracks: "Tilt," "House of Regret," "Land of No Return"
Lifestylez Ov da Poor & Dangerous (1995)
Big L's wordplay is still impressive more than a dozen years later. The rhyme scheme and wit of his verse on "Da Graveyard" (which features a very young sounding Jay-Z) would embarrass most of today's so-called heavy hitters. The title track and "All Black" have that explicit, self-assured swagger your inner alpha male loves. Big L definitely deserves to be on the Brooklyn Hip Hop Mount Rushmore and that's saying something.
Parc Avenue (2008)
Montreal trio Plants and Animals put out their full-length debut last February, got nominated for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize (a coveted Canadian award with $20,000 in booty for the winner), earned top marks from PopMatters and Pitchfork, and somehow flew completely under my radar. Sad because this album is indie rock gold with its warm and majestic balladry, sometimes bolstered by grandiose choral arrangements, other times gently meandering into the rootsy poignancy of 70s folk psychedelia.
Recommended tracks: Bye Bye Bye and Faerie Dance