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Music Staff Picks: The Best Releases of April

billy woods – Aethiopes On Aethiopes, billy woods reestablishes his strengths as a storyteller, with help from producer Preservation’s experimentally jazzy beats. By now, woods has cemented himself as one of hip hop’s greatest writers, and his brooding yet clever introspection sounds especially powerful over Preservation’s musical backdropping. Samples of pianos will twinkle across some tracks, and pound discordantly on others, while electric guitars ring and horns blow. By the time the harmonica enters the equation, the beats here are unparalleled. It is an enveloping atmosphere completed by excellent percussion, which moves between hand drums, full kits, and shuffling jangles … Continued

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Like much of the band’s music its vocals are sung in French, but the guitar melodies and laidback vocals are so infectious that an English-speaking listenership won’t find the language barrier much of an issue. (image via Bonsound)

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Earl Sweatshirt – SICK! On the newest album from Earl Sweatshirt, the rapper continues his streak of thoughtful and melancholic bars–this time with a slightly more approachable selection of beats, supplied by the likes of The Alchemist and Black Noi$e. Avant jazz is still a key piece of the production, though some of the pianos here have a midi sheen to them, and some of the trap-influenced drum tracks will be familiar to fans of contemporary hip hop. One such track featuring this style of production is “2010”, with a bright, yet off-kilter synth loop. Here, as with many spots … Continued

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