Even though Kiss will never be A-list and will never make a classic, there's something heartening about the fact that he's kind of thriving in the age of diminished expectations, selling more than rappers with ten times the radio spins, getting on every remix even when raspy punchlines are, to put it mildly, out of style. And really, this album is doper than most people are giving it credit for. People who complain about the Pharrell tracks on here clearly haven't listened to "Hot Sauce To Go" lately.
2. Playboy Tre - Liquor Store Mascot
It's pretty hard to get me to listen to a new rapper that the radio isn't already putting in my face and making me form an opinion about, especially now that all the blogs & mags have anointed a particularly pathetic batch of newcomers. But multiple people on the pretty damn short list of folks whose opinions on rap I will pretty much always trust without question happened to rep for Playboy Tre recently, and I'm glad I checked out his latest release, although I haven't totally digested it yet. Tre sounds like he learned to rap listening to Pimp C, and while he's got some of the voice and accent without the snarl and flair for hysterical obscenity, he still comes across as a pretty clever guy with a good ear for beats and concepts.
3. Superchunk - Leaves In The Gutter EP
It feels kind of funny how there's been a nice little wave of nostalgia and general fondness for Superchunk lately, between the Merge anniversary project and the latest Clambake and them finally putting out some new music for the first time in ages, but I've just been more obsessed with the band than ever during their downtime. I kind of like that they've come back by just dipping their toes in with an EP, a format they've always done well with, so the whole occasion feels less weighted down with expectations, it's just some new Superchunk songs, no biggie. They pick up where they left off with the last couple albums, but upping the tempo and stripping away the synths and strings to recapture some of the energy of the early stuff, while the off-kilter interlocking riffs of "Learned To Surf" indicate that they're still willing to push their formula into subtly new shapes.
4. Daniel Francis Doyle - We Bet Our Money On You
Doyle is a guy from Texas that I saw play a show in Baltimore about a year ago and he was really impressive, kind of taking the loop pedal one-man-band thing that's so common in indie circles these days up to the next level with interlocking multiple guitar riffs and simultaneous singing and drumming that must take Jedi-level powers of concentration and breath control. Of course, on his new album, that feat doesn't really hold the same weight, because anybody can just overdub in a studio and get a perfect take to pull off what he does in real time onstage. But he's still a pretty talented dude with some interesting arranging ideas and weird textures that make this way better than a garden variety lo-fi pop/rock record.
5. Lil Boosie - Thug Passion Mixtape
I never even got around to hearing the Superbad mixtape that Boosie released earlier this year, but I heard this one was better so I guess I'll just roll with this unless I start to hear otherwise. For a tiny, shrill-voiced Southern rapper whose name starts with "lil," he's always had a pretty uncommon amount of genuine pathos and anger and depression in his music, and it almost feels like he's been avoiding making a new album or actively trying to ascend to the level of stardom no matter how big his buzz is or how many great underground releases he drops. Even wondering aloud why it's taking him so long to put out an album just makes me think of how pissed he sounded on Bad Azz's "When You Gonna Drop" about people asking him that, so I should just be happy he's got all these mixtapes.