New Music Corner Issue 3: September Releases You May Have Missed


Four September albums that you may have missed. (Courtesy of Facebook)

“What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?” by Public Enemy

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

The Long Island-based founding fathers of politically-conscious hip-hop are back and still tenaciously rhyming about the same racially-charged themes as they did in the ’80s. Before Public Enemy, hip-hop was still in its incubation period, slowly expanding its roots and experimenting with lyricism. The release of 1988’s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back,” alongside N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton,” changed the rap landscape forever. It gave birth to a spirit of activism and antagonism on top of grimy, hard-hitting production coming from their legendary team known as the Bomb Squad. Although MC Chuck D’s flow and sometimes outdated hooks, like on the track “State of the Union (STFU),” struggle to resonate as strongly with a 21st-century audience, the Afrocentric pioneer’s ability to convey every raw emotion of his message is exceptional. The album’s peak comes with “Fight the Power: Remix 2020,” a sequel 30 years in the making, combining features from the new (Rapsody, YG) with the old school (Nas, Black Thought). The original track has been cited by Rolling Stone and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most culturally significant songs of all time. The  Spike Lee-directed music video depicts Chuck D and Flava Flav amidst a Brooklyn protest, reflective of activism in the early ’90s and today’s Black Lives Matter movement today. Public Enemy’s newest release is a testimony to their cultural and historical relevance while also a show of how much more progress is needed towards justice and equity.



“The Ascension” by Sufjan Stevens

Genre: Art Pop, Folk

Since the release of “A Sun Came” in 1999, Sufjan Stevens has been a figurehead of new wave folk, blending multi-instrumentalism with abstract, futuristic themes all centered around realism. He’s a music lover’s favorite artist, illustrating profound creativity through the use of the banjo, religious imagery and previous collaborations with hip-hop acts The Roots and Kanye West. On “The Ascension,” his second release of 2020, he once again blends all of these elements into a dense, congruent project. The grandiose track “Gilgamesh” illustrates Stevens’ longing for religious understanding and salvation by effectively placing him in “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” an ancient Mesopotamian myth believed to be the oldest piece of literature. Towards the end of the story, Gilgamesh, who is two-thirds a god, witnesses his beast-like friend take his final breath, forcing him to question morality and the afterlife in the same way that Stevens attempts to cope with these topics. However, these moments on the album are somewhat overshadowed by bizarre lyricism and a lack of coherency previously seen in his most critically acclaimed work, “Illinois.” “I s— my pants and wet the bed,” he whispers on “Ativan,” unsuccessfully attempting to show his metaphoric innocence while making the audience ask, “Did he really just say that?” and missing Stevens’ point. Regardless, “The Ascension” is another gold star added to Stevens’ discography, loaded with visions of both the present and what lies beyond.


“Agüita” by Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Genre: Contemporary R&B, Latin

Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Gabriel Garzón-Montano builds upon the success of his soulful 2017 project, “Jardín,” incorporating Latin flair and bouncy reggaeton to his proficient R&B ballads. The sonic composition in “Agüita” is a kaleidoscope of Garzón-Montano’s technical ability and daring creativity as each song stands alone as proof that he can conquer any style, transcending genre and musical conformation. “With A Smile” introduces Garzón-Montano’s tender, alluring voice while its following track, “Muñeca,” sounds like an entirely different artist, similar to Latin-American superstars J Balvin and Maluma. Sonic diversity commands the album; however, it remains uniform due to exceptional music design. Garzón-Montano’s artistic puzzle is completed by the final track, which is incomparable to contemporary R&B projects in America and dance records that dominate the Latin charts. “Agüita” also marks the singer’s first piece of Spanish songwriting, delivering catchy hooks and bilingual rap verses. Overall, the sophomore project comes as a triumph for Garzón-Montano, consolidating every aspect of his musical DNA, from flowing vocals to analog instrumentation, into a mix that showcases one of America’s rising Latin artists.


“Shore” by Fleet Foxes

Genre: Indie Folk

The fourth studio album from Robin Pecknold’s Seattle band is a warm, relaxing project filled with moments of self-reflection and the discovery of inner peace. Much of Pecknold’s songwriting is drawn from previous despair and the search for solace amongst feelings of anxiety and apprehensiveness. “Shore” is therefore reflective of Fleet Foxes’ previous works, containing similar melodic patterns and lyrical content. However, the album’s complexity is outlandish due to Pecknold’s contributions. He relies less on the band and more on his personal ability to compose commanding yet soft arrangements that sound like a culmination of every emotion referenced in his words. Paradoxes run rampant throughout the entire project, with constant changes in melody and subject matter, while remaining grounded in their conventional indie-folk style. Songs “Featherweight” and “Quiet Air / Gioia” are personal favorites, both incorporating the aforementioned messages of fear, reflection and optimism. Fleet Foxes’ newest project is a continuation of previous accomplishments and a divulge into Pecknold’s constant desire to find peace in struggle, light within darkness.


Other September/Early October Releases:

“Savage Mode II” by 21 Savage (Hip-Hop/Rap)

“Streams of Thought, Vol. 3: Cane & Abel” by Black Thought (Hip-Hop/Rap)

“ANNIVERSARY” by Bryson Tiller (Pop/R&B)

“Seven Times Down Eight Times Up” by Elzhi (Hip-Hop/Rap)

“Ultra Mono” by Idles (Punk Rock)

“Hyper Romance” by Jadu Heart (Indie Pop/Folk)

“Nectar” by Joji (Pop, Synth-Pop)

“Uprize!” by Spaza (Jazz)

“SPILLIGION” by Spillage Village (Hip-Hop/Rap)

“Shamir” by Shamir (Pop/R&B)

“DAYSTAR” by Tory Lanez (Pop/R&B)