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10 New Albums to Stream Now: Father John Misty, Kanye West, Natalie Prass and More Editors’ Picks

Father John Misty’s dark antics, Kanye West’s Wyoming missive, Natalie Prass’ sharp-edged soul-pop and more albums to stream now

10 New Albums to Stream Now: Father John Misty, Kanye West, Natalie Prass and More Editors' Picks

Father John Misty and Kanye West.

Emma Tillman; PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

EDITORS’ PICK: Father John Misty, God’s Favorite Customer
Josh Tillman’s fourth album under the FJM banner sounds “as if Tillman wrote and arranged these songs under the sumptuous, despairing spell of Lennon’s early-Seventies solo records, with time off for the late-Sixties Zombies and the Beach Boys’ Sunflower,” writes David Fricke. 
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Kanye West, Ye
The latest opus from the MC-producer-cultural lightning rod, which West debuted in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last night, is “so short that it’s almost jarring,” writes Elias Leight, but it still manages to fit in cameos from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Charlie Wilson, John Legend and Nicki Minaj. 
Read Our Feature: Inside Kanye West’s Wyoming Listening Party
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Natalie Prass, The Future and the Past
The Virginia-born soul-pop singer’s second album “pairs
the sharp and the smooth, its keenly observed lyrics about love and politics
given grounding by arrangements that recall soft-pop highlights from the past
four decades,” writes Maura Johnston. 
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Black Thought x 9th Wonder & the Soul Council, Streams of Thought Vol. 1
It’s remarkable that – after nearly 25 years in the music industry – this EP is Black Thought’s first solo project. (He planned the solo debut Masterpiece Theater in 2000, but it was eventually absorbed into The Roots’ 2002 Phrenology.) Musically, 9th Wonder and the Soul Council’s production is spare and subtle, with tracks like “Making a Murderer” notable mostly for their hard, totemic percussive notes. That leaves the focus on Black Thought’s words. True to the title, he doesn’t offer any choruses, just streams of verses that cover his own lyrical prowess, history and politics, and whatever else comes to mind. His voice sounds gravelly – two decades of constant touring will do that – and substitutes tonal nuance for raw power, like a horn player blowing his lungs out. “These rappers are Peter Pan/I’m pan-African,” he raps on “9th vs. Thought.” A mic-trading session with Rapsody on “Dostoyevsky” is a notable highlight. Mosi Reeves
Hear: Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Neko Case, Hell-On
Case’s clarion pipes remain the calling card, but on her 8th studio LP, between lyrics and vocal arrangements, they’ve never channeled more imagination or sense of purpose. A set of rangy folk-rock, Hell-On opens pondering the nature of God (“an unspecified tide … a lusty tire fire”) and hits its stride dissecting love, most dazzlingly on “Winnie” (“joy ran through us like welders flux/We just wanted to be music!”). Beth Ditto, k.d. lang, Eric Bachmann, Laura Viers and others reinforce the key point: No instrument has more power than the unadorned human voice. Will Hermes
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Oneohtrix Point Never, Age Of
“OPN auteur Daniel Lopatin is a composer-producer (David Byrne, AHNONI) who’s grabbed the mic; words and breathing just provide more sound to scramble,” Will Hermes writes about this “brain-bending” album. “On ‘Babylon,’ his digitized croon recalls Bon Iver’s 22, A Million; ‘Black Snow’’s fingersnaps echo Lorde’s ‘Royals,’ but with apocalyptic vision and cyborg voices. It’s more a mirror to a freaked-out soul than a balm, but there’s comfort in the prog-rock dazzle, and it resolves in a cozy cosmic jazz coda.” 
Read Our Feature: Why Oneohtrix Point Never Wrote “Nightmare Ballads” in an Egg-Shaped House for Age Of
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

American Aquarium, Things Change
BJ Barham earns every bit of his Southern Springsteen cred on American Aquarium’s first studio album since 2015’s Wolves, and its first with an entirely revamped lineup. The change, as they say, does Barham good, who’s been gifted the perfect players to soundtrack his bewilderment and rage over the 2016 presidential election. Rhythm section Joey Bybee and Ben Hussey are in lockstep on the resilient anthem “Tough Folks,” pedal-steel player Adam Kurtz gives “Crooked + Straight” its immersive wall-of-sound vibe, and guitarist Shane Boeker’s solo on “The World Is on Fire” is appropriately apocalyptic. But Barham’s lyrics are the centerpiece here, as he ponders a fractured country (“I saw firsthand what desperation makes good people do,” he sings in “Tough Folks”), mourns the mass exodus of his old bandmates (“When We Were Younger”) and celebrates the restorative power of hard labor (the marvelous “Work Conquers All”). Aside from a few twangy licks, Things Change is an unabashed rock & roll record – a snapshot of a band and its reinvigorated leader. Joseph Hudak
Read Our Feature: How BJ Barham Makes Sense of Trump Nightmare on New American Aquarium Album
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Kitten, Pink Champagne
The power-synth-pop collective, led by the charismatic Chloe Chaidez, sparkles on this EP, which bleeds into the red on “I Did It!” – a sugar rush so compact, its three-plus minutes include a squealing guitar solo and a wrenching bridge – and splits the difference between Blood Orange and “Pretty In Pink” on the slow-dance-ready “Abigail.” Maura Johnston
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | Spotify | Tidal

Various Artists, African Scream Contest 2
The sequel to an equally fantastic 2008 set again compiles vintage Sixties-Seventies Afropop from Benin – a melting pot of styles mirroring Nigerian juju and Fela Kuti-style Afrobeat from the east, jazzy Ghanian highlife from the west, plus English and American rock and funk. The music is effervescent and propulsive, with, you guessed it, the occasional joyous scream for emphasis. And the anthropological detective story of the LP’s curation, detailed in a handsomely illustrated booklet, makes it worth buying the old-fashioned way. Will Hermes
Hear: Amazon Music Unlimited | Apple Music | BandcampSpotify | Tidal

Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, Ragas Abhogi & Vardhani
The late Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar performed slow, unraveling ragas on the rudra veena, a classical, low-register, double-gourd instrument that was eventually supplanted in popularity by the bass sitar. Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley – an enthusiast of both raw bootlegs and drones of all shapes – has unearthed two Eighties performances, releasing them on his Ideologic Organ imprint. This volume, splitting two ragas across two pieces of vinyl, has a closer feel and a deeper boom. You can hear what – I assume – are the creaks in the instrument’s body, as well as his own cough, as Dagar bends and journeys. Christopher R. Weingarten
Hear: Bandcamp | Spotify

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