Every Friday, Attendee.com takes a look at some of the week’s best new albums from across the musical spectrum. Whether you need some tunes to unwind with after work or a hot track to play at a party … we’ve got you covered.

Drugdealer“Raw Honey”


Drugdealer’s new album answers the question of whether or not retro pop will ever wear out its welcome anytime soon. Indeed, “Raw Honey” makes a good argument in favor of responsible nostalgia. In an era where contemporary rock and pop shirks off analog production and composition, Drugdealer celebrates the time-old method of just plugging in a Fender, firing up an antique electric organ, recording some brass or just letting a string section go off on a tangent. It’s been 50 years since the Manson Family murders, but that doesn’t stop “Raw Honey” from invoking that once culturally tainted style of hippie pop. It’s dirty feet on an old porch, weed smoke in your hair, and lazy California sunshine. Just let the music play, man! And yet, it’s still surprisingly fresh. Drugdealer frontman Michael Collins (who looks like if Che Guevara took acid and joined the Grateful Dead) does a great job of turning that early ‘70s pop folk feel into an eternal sensation devoid of any historical baggage. You can’t tell me sounding like Carole King, The Beach Boys or Country Joe McDonald is a bad thing. Look at how well records like “Tapestry” and “Brown Sugar” have aged. Collins recruits a motley mercenary force to aid him on his revitalization: collaborators like Weyes Blood, Dougie Poole and Harley and the Hummingbirds allow for a diversity of voices and tones; it’s what gives Raw Honey the feeling of your dad’s record collection synthesized into one coherent, concise location. No need to crate dig, every track is a hidden gem.

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Lolo Zouaï “High Highs to Low Lows”


“I can’t get wait to paid more than a minimum wage,” Lolo Zouaï croons on her debut LP. It’s indicative of her coming out party. She’s been itching to flex. The song in question is the opener and title track of the record, the one that put the French-Algerian pop artist on everyone’s radar back in 2017. Since then, Zouaï has been busy. She was featured on Myth Syzer’s 2018 “Bisous”; she helped write songs for H.E.R.’s firecracker, Grammy winning self-titled; she recruited Blood Orange for her “Ocean Beach” singles. The spotlight is bearing down her and she delivers on this minimalist and intimate pop R&B record. “High Highs” is reflective of its time; Zouaï is clearly influenced and imitating acts like Ariana Grande, Frank Ocean, and SZA. It has all the staples of modern R&B: snappy snares, pitch-shifted vocal interludes and post-production synths that glide across the speakers. Its tone is smooth, adaptable, and apathetic, yet still manages to sound genuine and resilient. Zouaï’s songwriting and production comes off like she spent many nights chain-smoking in the studio. She’s aligned with artists like Khalid and Billie Eilish in this way. She clearly wasn’t grown in a vat underneath Columbia Records because like Eilish she isn’t flashy or engorged by fame. She wants to show some skin, just enough to show off the bruises and prove she’s not an industry plant.

Purchase your tickets here to see her live this summer!

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Pivot Gang“You Can’t Sit With Us”


Straight up, quality hip-hop is hard to find these days. The market is deeply saturated with cross-pollinating artists who seek to draw interest from a variety of subcultures: Tyler The Creator courts the PBR&B crowd; Brockhampton fans like Kanye and Clairo; Lil Uzi is just as influenced by Lil Wayne as he is by Marilyn Manson, etc. Pivot Gang’s first formal release, “You Can’t Sit With Us,” is introspective rap music for an evening stroll. Chicago bungalows create shadows as you drunkenly stumble from the summer kickback to your humid apartment. Police lights splinter your cornea like a broken malt liquor bottle. It’s the kind of hip-hop that is more suited for a jazz lounge than on the club DJ’s deck. Tracks like “Hero” rely on fluid woodwinds to drive home the relaxed nature of this LP. Pivot Gang’s head honcho, Saba, has been crafting this kind of soft poetic, working-class music for years now. He’s the only consistent presence throughout an album; a revolving door of MCs share their street wisdom over 13 solid tracks. There are Chicago big dogs like Smino and Mick Jenkins, but Pivot Gang is a rap collective so no voice takes priority. It’s a collage of flows and inflections. It’s the communal nature of what is essentially a friendly cipher. “We the bad boys, like Detroit Pistons.” Even though some of the beats feel ripped from “Lofi beats to study/chill to,” this is the kind of album that prioritizes lyrics and musicality over trying to make a chart topper. “You Can’t Sit With Us” is about expression . . . not throwing everything at the wall hoping something sticks.

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Aldous Harding“Designer”

Aldous Harding’s music has always been gorgeously off-kilter, which is to say that you’re never entirely sure how to feel when you finish listening to her recordings. Should I be desperate or hopeful? Is this album about brutal heartbreak or worthwhile heartache? Is Harding genuinely weird or playing a variety of interesting characters? Hard to tell, but these contradictions are what make her work so fascinating. Unlike her previous albums, “Designer” is much more goofy and her language is much clearer. On her debut LP, released by 4AD and produced by John Parish of PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse fame, Harding was distant and obscured by her intentionally desolate beauty. Harding’s 2017 effort, “Party,” was more affirmed and open, but she still relied on the thick mist of her composition to shroud herself in mystery. “Designer,” on the other hand, is pristine and goofy. Songs like the “The Barrel” have calming, yet fidgeting composition that is paired beautifully with Harding’s maternal hushes. But listen closely to the chorus: “I know you have the dove, I’m not getting wet, looks like a date is set, show the ferret to the egg, I’m not getting led along.” It’s this theatrical, playful kind of artistry that gives Harding such complex character. She is both brooding and whimsical, fine art and folkish. That balance allows Harding to manage the pH level of each track and give virility to music that often can be so quiet that it gets lost in the background.  

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Anticipations

FKA twigs“Cellophane”

Most international pop stars don’t make sonic reference to DeBussy in their lead singles, but then again most pop stars aren’t FKA twigs. Very few artists — really only Kate Bush and Nina Simone comes to mind — are able to gain acclaim by being deeply impressionistic. “Cellophane” is an absolutely brutal return to the public zeitgeist. “They really wanna see us apart . . . and I don’t want to have to share our love,” twigs contemplates over piano that sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned cathedral. Human hushes and muted kick drums are the only percussive buildup to a song that is both simultaneously exhausted and anthemic. It’s a triumphant return for an artist who is deeply meticulous and constantly making the listener beg for more. We’re begging for 2019’s releases to include an FKA twigs LP.

Purchase your tickets here to see her live in LA!

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