July 28Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”I’ve never really been that big of a fan of Arcade Fire’s particular brand of indie rock. “Reflektor” had some cool moments, but overall, it just hits me as disingenuous. That type of indie rock that banks on its eclectic nature. The self-titled single is one such example, weirdly channeling ABBA and the general disco-funk sound. There are a couple moments throughout where the singer sounds vulnerable and tackles subjects that are worth tackling, such as on the track “Creature Comfort,” where the singer seems to genuinely hope to help someone suffering from suicidal thoughts. In general though, I think the record stretches itself a bit too thin, and someone looking for nostalgic rock is better off listening to the last Phoenix record.
Alice Cooper, “Paranormal”A few issues ago, I talked about how Glenn Danzig didn’t sound old on the new Danzig record. Take that same sentiment and ramp it up to 11 for this one. I did not expect anything going into “Paranormal,” and I got an Alice Cooper album that can legitimately stand with the likes of “Billion Dollar Babies” in the Alice Cooper discography. The dude sounds as fresh as he always has. Instrumentally, it’s exactly what you expect from classic/hard rock. But really the standout on this record is just how goddamn good Cooper’s singing sounds. The dude is pushing 70 and he sounds perfect. Compare him to someone like Axl Rose or Steven Tyler and you will rightfully bow down like Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, proclaiming your unworthiness.
Make Them Suffer, “Worlds Apart”I love this style of deathcore that blends orchestral bits and heavy-as-hell breakdowns. Make Them Suffer have ended up becoming the poster child for the style after Abigail Williams and Winds of Plague slowed down on the releases, and the scene is better off for it. Their first record, “Neverbloom,” took me by complete surprise, and while “Worlds Apart” is a tad more predictable, it doesn’t lose any of its power for it. It does seem to embrace the contemporary hardcore style a little bit more than the black metal-influenced style of the last couple records. Which I think might alienate some of their fans, but it will almost certainly gain them new ones.
Vic Mensa, “The Autobiography”Finally, the man drops an actual album. Coming out of the thriving Chicago scene alongside scene-darling Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa is joining the 2017 crew of dropping genuinely amazing hip-hop records. The album begins with some soul music, which I think actually ill-prepares the listener for what “The Autobiography” offers. What follows is an hour of smooth rap channeling some of the vibes of the West Coast while harnessing the aggression and flow of the classic East Coast sound. “OMG” was a highlight for me, as I am always a fan of a Pusha T feature, as well as the juxtaposition of the track “Rage,” which is oddly uplifting, with his voice soaring over a reverbed out and slightly delayed beat that sounds like it was recorded in a shipping container. That’s my style right there.