Put some spring in your step with these albums

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ALBUM:  Apricot Princess

ARTIST: Rex Orange County

SIMILAR TO: Mac Demarco, Frank Ocean

At the surprisingly young age of 19, Rex Orange County [Alex O’Connor] has already released two albums, toured alongside Frank Ocean, garnered a spot as a prominent feature artist on Tyler, The Creator’s Flower Boy and made a name for himself as one of 2018’s most promising, rising artists. Rex’s take on young love, adolescence and seemingly universal settings and mementos presents itself in a genre of his own that blends everything from indie-pop to alternative-hip hop.

This test of boundaries toward how far genres will extend into one another is the reason why his sophomore album, Apricot Princess, is not only sonically alluring but it is also filled with introspective ups and downs, reflecting how introverted the album really is. In only 39 minutes, Rex switches between upbeat to laid back, from happiness to sadness, from orchestra to synths to drums to electric guitar to piano, sometimes all in one song as presented in the album’s second track, Television/So Far So Good.

ALBUM: Black Panther: The Soundtrack

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar (amongst others)

SIMILAR TO: Schoolboy Q, Anderson .Paak

Almost as anticipated as the movie itself, the Black Panther soundtrack features hip hop and R&B artists from the top of the charts led by rapper Kendrick Lamar who contributes both his voice and his words to all 14 songs. Much like the movie, the soundtrack explores social consciousness and movements such as Black Lives Matter, 21st-century politics and holds true to strong feminist undertones as presented through SZA and Jorja Smith’s memorable and newly-emerging vocals.

On this soundtrack, Lamar partners with big names Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, Future and Travis Scott, Anderson .Paak and James Blake, Khalid, The Weeknd, Vince Staples and Swae Lee as well as many South African musicians with few commercial credits to their names. Through this, Lamar is able to create one of the most fluid soundtracks in the past few years.  In order, each song flows into the following one, so much so that if the listener wasn’t paying close enough attention, he or she may mistake multiple songs for one. While it follows the Black Panther saga, the soundtrack is produced in such a way that it encompasses the creativity and imagination of those featured, allowing it to withstand on its own



SIMILAR TO: Drake, Teyana Taylor, Kehlani

Growing up in the age of instant messaging, over sharing, and tweeting, it is rare to find artists that still fantasize about living out the cliché of hiding their identity in order for listeners to focus on their voices, hence the irony in the mysterious emergence of the nameless, faceless R&B artist that goes by “H.E.R.”, an acronym for Having Everything Revealed.  Though mystery most definitely feeds the flame of her growing fame, her nostalgic, old-school sound is a product of her sultry voice yet seemingly haunting nature seduces the listener even in her soft delivery, void of notes that climb or stir. Clear, blunt and to the point, it is the authentic energy and the emotional accounts told through the lyrics that inevitably draw the listener in.

Combining two previous “volumes” or EPs, H.E.R. creates this self-titled album of 21 songs that embody the desire to be seen, heard, and felt. The many sides of love and heartbreak which were shown in her first EP are laced with her second EP’s emphasis on self empowerment and personal growth. While the listener may go into the album feeling disconnected from H.E.R., by the end, it’s hard not to feel as if he or she is with her.


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