This eight-track wonder of heartbreak and magic is cinematic, funny and catchy as hell. In the steady building track “Castle (The Party)” he does it all. “You like it here in the dark, it’s not much but I call it home,” he sings with sultry power before jumping up a beat into a full on rager. Pink Nois comes through with a handful of skits, spooky bars and introspective under-his-breath moments. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. “Take It Slow (ft. Thai & The Age)” and “Professional” are back-to-back, sexy R&B anthems with the fantastic “RUBY (ft. NXNES)” closing with a grand finale. We’re unbelievably lucky to have Pink Nois around and should own up to that on a regular basis.
In a recent interview with the local podcast 7th Helix, band member Jon Cantiello expressed the mindfuck he experienced when he first heard the opening line of “Tests” (the song that opens each of the band’s live sets) songwriter and lead vocalist Caitlin Barker had crafted for their debut album. “He says not to lie if you don’t cum. He’s not so sure he’d take it like a man.” It sits mid-album in Traumantic and Cantiello’s moment of self-reflection is the perfect example of the craft and brutal, shredding honesty Barker led the band with in this project. It’s firey hot–burning right where you need it to.
Alt-country, baby. Greens, the project of Troy-based artist Alex Brooks and his band of Albany DIY homies, is like that very first hot cup of coffee you put to your lips when you get yourself out of bed and stretched out–taking a second to yourself before the day comes charging at you full force. With the kick off of “Before The Dog,” the self-titled EP swells and grows and might even bring a tear to your eye. It’s reflective and therapeutic. Ever listen to “Bigger” riding in the car by yourself in the rain? Yeah, you get it.
The Good News
How blessed are we that this Maryland transplant makes his art while studying at RPI in Troy? Extremely. Charles O’More’s 2019 EP The Good News (and mindblowing bop of a single “Nineteen + Won” that I am throwing in here for good measure) is above and beyond expectations. We love a powerful vocalist that throws together interesting and frenetic instrumental arrangements. “I’m getting your attention,” he sings in the opening track “King Smoke.” You bet you are. This is the spiritually-focused album Kanye wishes he made. (Yeah, hot take. Come for me.)
We’re growing from the inside out in 2019, ok? You want to talk about mental health, trauma, personal development? OHZHE always seems to be on top of it. With the obligatory sprinkling of a flex here and there, this is the rapper’s opportunity to show how far he’s come after taking a break from the scene to reflect. The ache of our struggle with healthy communication in relationships and treating partners respectfully in “Dove Street (ft. BelleCachi)” is real. “$acrifices” is a testament to his self-assurance and recognition of self-worth. This is a collection of tracks that needed to be said in order to move forward.
Girl Blue put out a live solo EP of a mix of her classic hits (“Fire Under Water”) and beautiful, previously unreleased tracks (“Eyes on the Horizon”) and I will honestly stan this project forever for “Heavy Heart” alone. Who writes a song like that and doesn’t go down in history? IT SLAPS.
A delightfully coarse trio of tracks by Albany’s new “slutcore” crew that revels in the juxtaposition of feedback-heavy, synth-rattled, thrashing instrumentals and poet Sarah Rose’s fantastic, passive, conversational lyrical stylings that are most certainly NSFW but absolutely hilarious and spot on–taking hits at skater boys, gamers, try-hards and slut-shamers. Protect them at all costs.
Isbo (I Shoulda Been On)
These are some beautifully produced songs and local rapper Selli Paper has nailed down the “pop rap” energy that currently dominates the airwaves. Songs like “Well Connected” are quick, confident and catchy. The beats on “No Games” and “My Cell” are lovely and grounding. “Smoke” is a tight and focused hype track that could spice up any party playlist. There’s a lot to take in here. Albums like these really showcase the quality of the 518 hip hop scene and the amount of energy bursting at its seams.