The beginning and end of this month were swamped with good music from all genres. Whether you wanted metal or R&B, there was some quality drops for everyone. On the singles side, we had a new video from Metallica’s upcoming album as well as Kid Cudi with a set of new songs and videos that may signal his return back to that old Moon Man style. October was a great month, with plenty of music that didn’t make our top 5, but read on to see what were the best albums October had to offer.
Solange – A Seat At The Table (Album Of The Month)
While her sister is a worldwide icon, Solange Knowles has very quietly developed her own talent and style that completely contrasts her sister’s widespread pop appeal. Eight years removed from her last album, the soulful Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, Solange returns with A Seat At The Table. Overall, AATT is a more focused effort than it’s predecessor and shows the growth that Solange has been through during that time frame. She delivers an honest album loaded with her effortless and confident vocals that compliment the neo-soul/jazz like production. Cranes In The Sky is the album’s first single and it’s an upbeat track which can relate to anyone that has tried multiple ways to cope with pain. Solange even brings out the best in Lil Wayne, who gets personal about a failed suicide attempt and spits his best verse in years on Mad. The album is sprinkled with skits starring her parents and Master P, explaining personal experiences that tie the songs multiple concepts together. In a genre like R&B that gets over saturated with below average artists constantly, Solange is a breath of fresh air. Music needs more artists like her, and this excellent album is proof of it. Hopefully her follow up doesn’t take another eight years to come.
Stand out tracks: Cranes In The Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, Where Do We Go
The Game – 1992
The first thing I need to say about this album is: How the fuck did Game and his label afford all these sample clearances in 2016? These aren’t some obscure sample from found in some dusty record crate, these are well known tracks and artists such as Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Soul II Soul, Ice T, etc. The overuse of popular samples do not deter from the final product but it helps give the album a true nostalgic feel. Unlike his previous albums, 1992 is light on features, with the only guest appearance from a rapper is newcomer Osbe Chill on True Colors/It’s On. Game’s lyrics shine when it comes to story telling in this album. The opening track, Savage Lifestyle, which shows you the chaos of the LA riots through the view point of a 13 year old Game: “Just so we’re clear, this is pain and despair/ We burn our own shit and we aware and don’t care” proclaims Game over a flip of Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues. Game seems to be on a roll with his past few projects, and with the west coast running rap right now, this release cements his status among the best current artists in hip hop.
Stand out tracks: Savage Lifestyle, I Grew Up On Wu-Tang, 92 Bars
Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
It was previously rumored that A7X would drop a brand new album in December, so fans were pretty surprised when this record dropped out of nowhere in the last month of October. But not only did they release the album over a month earlier than anticipated, but they also linked up with producer/engineer Joe Barresi (Queens Of The Stone Age, Chevelle, Coheed & Cambria). Contrary to their past 2 albums, which carried a very straight forward heavy metal style, The Stage feels more like a natural progression from their self titled album and City Of Evil with a bit more melodrama attached to it. To add even more depth, this is a concept album about Artificial Intelligence. This theme is evident on Creating God, which touches on humans creating computers so powerful that we will look at them like gods. The album has one of the most epic finales in any rock releases this year with Exist. The nearly 16 minute closing track is a rock opera that simulates the Big Bang from a metal perspective. The song remains mostly instrumental, with minor vocals added by M. Shadows, and a closing speech provided by none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is A7X at the most creative and unpredictable that they’ve ever been, and The Stage is easily not only one of the best rock releases this year, but one of the best albums. Period.
Stand out tracks: Paradigm, Sunny Disposition, Exist
SWMRS – Drive North
The band previously known as Emily’s Army has renamed themselves as SWMRS for their brand new album Drive North. Drive North is their third album and also their first release that isn’t produced by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, who’s son is SWMR’s drummer Joey Armstrong. With punk royalty blood in the band’s DNA, they succeed at bringing the fun of throwback punk with a much modern twist. The album’s sound is pop punk to the core, with a few indie influences that keep the album’s sound fresh through out. Harry Dean, the album’s hardest and rowdiest track, opens up the album full of energy. That level of energy is unmatched through out the rest of the album, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the tracks are any less enjoyable. Palm Trees is pop punk gold and one of the catchiest songs this year. The title track, Drive North, is a angst filled dance punk track that will have you chanting “I hate Los Angeles” over it’s punchy, fast paced drums. Even on their softer tracks such as Lose It, they invoke their inner Beach Boys influences for an infectious and well produced track. This isn’t some ground breaking release that’s going to shape the face of music, but it’s a hell of a fun ride, and sometimes that’s all we need.
Stand out tracks: Harry Dean, Drive North, Palm Trees
Joe Budden – Rage & The Machine
For over a decade, Budden has mastered the art of displaying vulnerability on record. It’s this fact that has earned him one of the biggest cult followings in hip hop. Whether it’s drug abuse, depression, or shady relationships, Budden has taken the listener through a very detailed parade of his life. A great example of this was his last album, last year’s All Love Lost. Contrary to that album, Rage & The Machine is a much more stable trip through Joe’s emotions, in this album Joe seems to be at peace and dealing much better with all the turmoil that last year brought about. On I Wanna Know, Budden raps “So right now I stand in a place I never stood before/ Finally filled the void in my life, I wasn’t good before.” This album might not be heavy on aggression and pain, but it’s still just as lyrically dense as any Budden release, for further evidence just check out Serious, a back and forth trade off with Joell Ortiz. On the production tip, Aarab Muzik brings mostly heat, and even with the few slight missteps on the production side, those tracks are more than redeemed by Joe’s lyrics. At the end of the day, Budden may have one of the best catalogs in hip hop and this is just another cog to one of the hardest working machines in rap.
Stand out tracks: Three, I Wanna Know, Idols