Jams that Slap

This list bridges multiple genres but the one consistent factor is that all these albums are absolute bangers, and personal favorites of staff member CJ.

Wasteland, Baby!

There's more than a hint of soul and gospel to Hozier's album, tempered with arty arena rock that's drawn equally from U2 and Peter Gabriel--but the overall feeling isn't anguished, it's consoling. It's a subtle but notable shift that lends emotional gravity to a singer/songwriter who already favored weighty topics.

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After dropping critically acclaimed singles Now That I Found You and No Drug Like Me, multi-platinum Grammy, Juno, and Polaris Prize-nominated singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen releases her next full-length album via School Boy/Interscope Records.

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Metal Galaxy

Metal Galaxy feels like an album that finally represents what Babymetal wants to be. The metal parts are heavier than ever while also being more ‘musical’. The J-Pop is integrated seamlessly throughout the melodies and choruses, and there are just so many additional influences from song-to-song – from djent to western pop, and even terrible pirate metal. Metal Galaxy is easily the best and most entertaining release of Babymetal’s career, featuring a diverse array of songs that are all capably carried by Suzuka’s proficient vocals, improved songwriting, and an excellent production.

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We Are Not Your Kind

If one were to say We Are Not Your Kind is a “new form of Slipknot,” that would be missing the bigger point; this album encompasses all that has been and is Slipknot. From the guttural grinding of guitars to the blends of singing and screaming, to the mix of hectic and somber atmosphere, the Iowa metallers touch upon elements found throughout their discography.

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When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billie Eilish is the poster child for a new pop generation — a generation that bucks the conventional prerequisite of a debut album to begin one’s ascent to stardom. Since 2016, Eilish has instead slowly built her impressive repertoire with just a sole EP, viral singles, and collaborations with the likes of Vince Staples and Khalid. These performances coupled with her down-to-earth social media presence and electrifying live shows have solidified Eilish’s place in the indie pop space, setting the stage for her blockbuster debut full-length, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

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Getting into Knives

All in all, Getting Into Knives is a good record for those who’ve dipped a cautious toe into the work of The Mountain Goats in the past, as well as a great revival for more hardcore fans. There’s the usual indie-folk ditties, and Darnielle’s impressive storytelling and world building jumps from the wholesome to the transgressive and back again through the 13 tracks.

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Phoebe Bridgers doesn't write love songs as much as songs about the impact love can have on her life, personality, and priorities. Her fourth release and second solo album is concerned with that subject. To say she writes about heartbreak is to undersell her blue wisdom, to say she writes about pain erases all the strange joy her music emanates. This cements Phoebe Bridgers as one of the most clever, tender and prolific songwriters of our era.

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Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters is a triumphant and very well-timed return after an eight-year hiatus. Apple’s fifth album, an introspective, 13 song journey defies genre. ... Fetch The Bolt Cutters takes many exciting turns. The album exudes freedom, it exudes breaking constraints, it exudes Fiona Apple, and it might just be the album that we look back on when we think back to this COVID-19 era.

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Color Theory

Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, just keeps getting better. Her latest record surpasses any expectations set by 2018’s Clean, which set her apart from the crowd with its effortlessly cool pop energy, razor-sharp riffs and wise takes on adolescent turmoil. With color theory, Allison revives a fiery and rebellious noughties aesthetic, upgraded with enchanting sonic clarity.

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Crush on Me

It’s remarkable how Crush on Me comes off as two albums in one. One album, containing “Heels” and “Haunted House,” is a less abrasive version of SOPHIE’s work with Mozart’s Sister, which ends up as a hyperventilating version of the alt-pop singles that litter playlists everywhere. They’re all executed well; they’re certainly done with the most gusto possible. But the familiarity gets a bit much. The other album in Crush on Me is an alt-rock throwback.

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Fine Line

Harry Styles’ fanbase haven’t, like most, named themselves in his image, and it’s telling: Styles sometimes seems like the least important part of the package. He’s a blurry focal point, avoiding specific personal or political pronouncements. By vaguely standing for fluidity and tolerance, he creates a space for fantasy that perhaps he has realised is best left undisturbed. But to some, Styles’s aesthetic – whether the 70s California stylings of his self-titled debut or his conspicuously flamboyant attire – looked like window dressing on a blank shopfront. Fine Line rectifies that by putting Styles’s identity, at least in one domain, front and centre as he grapples with a breakup.

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Magdalene is a much starker, more emotionally direct album than 2014’s LP1, most noticeably in twigs’s voice, which moves with sleek power from delicate operatic acrobatics to muscular intimacy. It’s also bracingly frank: Home With You, a digitally warped ballad of Bowie-like grandeur, explores the regrets and resentments of a workaholic woman who struggles to also hold up the sky for others.

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