by Richard Southard, The River editor
Since my first year at UMF, I have been involved with 91.5 WUMF, the campus radio station. Music had remained in my interest out of high-school, and of course, I was drawn into the idea of my very own radio show. This eventually progressed to me becoming the new hip-hop/RPM (electronic music) director of the station. However, my positions didn’t stop there. My third year, I became the production manager, which is essentially considered to be vice president. Finally, I am now the current station manager.
Throughout my time in the station, I’ve come across a mountain of different artists and albums, some of which I enjoyed, and of course, some I haven’t. But the good, fortunately, has far outweighed the bad. Like many college stations, it’s kept a focus on promoting and showcasing new, developing, or otherwise unheard music artists from all genres.
Of course, many of my discoveries have been in hip-hop and electronic music. But after three years of managing and adding music, there have been other great styles I’ve come across. Over time, I’ve kept notes (some written, some mental) of my grand favorites that have gone through the station. For this week, I’ve decided to share five albums that have been released this year. Some have gathered more of a following than others, but all are worth attention.
Ancient Astronauts & Azeem – Broken Puppets
This is an excellent collaboration between electronic producers Ancient Astronauts, and hip-hop artist (and poet) Azeem. What I enjoy about the beats is how many of them start rather minimalistic, but then progress into more intricate electronic styles. My favorite track is probably “None of the Above”, a great reggae-flavored track, with a nice feature from Mustafa Akbar. “Broken Puppets” is also a theme that appears throughout the album, and while it might not be a concept album, it still keeps the lyrics interesting.
Shredders – Shredders
One of the many side projects of the hip-hop collective Doomtree, Shredders is a fast-paced, hard-hitting project that certainly deserves attention. Though this is only an EP, just the three tracks on it have been awesome enough to put it on my favorites. The horns that make up the beat of “Wolfs” are surprisingly catchy, as are the more quiet piano notes on “Ions”. It’s hard to pick between the two, to be honest (“Cult 45”, the third track, is also good, though).
TOKiMONSTA – Lune Rouge
When I first heard TOKiMONSTA’s album FOVERE in 2016, I was drawn in to her style of beat-making. It held an electronic-based, somewhat experimental style that reminded me of Flying Lotus, but also with a colorful and easy-going feel that I would expect from Anderson.Paak (who was actually featured on the album, too). Lune Rouge brings much of the same feeling, with more variations. With more vocal features, as well as some more rap vocals, this album feels like a great step over her previous work (which was already good).
Edaname – Bask
Another album that is very new, Bask is an effort by beat producer Edaname. Here, the style is a bit more etherial and atmospheric. Edaname’s sound has been described as being “zen-like”, taking inspiration from the outdoors and field-recordings. With other influences from world music and electronic subgenres, there’s a sound here that is quite unique.
Forest Swords – Compassion
The oldest album on this list (released in May) has also been one of the most memorable for me. This is certainly the most “experimental” example of this post (a term which I’m now growing tired of using). It’s an experience that manages to feel big in scale, while, in actuality, using less. Most tracks bring together a variety of instrumentals, vocal samples, and effects to create dazzling arrangements and soundscapes. The echoey moments placed over the beats is what makes some of the tracks feel expansive, sometimes to epic levels. It comes together feeling like a soundtrack, to a movie that never existed.
With countless releases coming through each semester, it was a bit difficult to pick only five to showcase. Perhaps it’s a sign I should be featuring just a few more each week. Regardless, it’s been a great experience being part of WUMF. Being able to promote and share great, yet undiscovered music is an awesome experience. It was part of my inspiration to begin this blog series in the first place.
Next week, as a branch off of this post, I’ll be talking about some music from Maine artists. Until then, enjoy the music, and thanks for the read.