Mothership – High Strangeness

Mothership, out of Dallas, TX, claim a lot of ‘70s hard rock as influences while making one of the more interesting styles of stoner-space rock. The opening and title track of the album sounds more like a mashup of Monster Magnet and Explosions in the Sky than it does, say UFO or Black Sabbath. That said, the second track, “Ride the Sun”, on their third album, High Strangeness, lands squarely in that wheelhouse. One can also hear elements of Kyuss in the noise Mothership bring and it’s easy to see why they have become a favorite in their local scene and are now getting out on their own headlining tour. Just two songs in and they show a surprising range when they create a positively Iron Maiden-esque break around the 2:45 mark before locking down into a half-time groove to wind down the song.

Stepping Stone: Madvillain // Madvillainy

RateYourMusic lists Madvillainy as the fourth best hip-hop album ever, with a 4.10 rating (averaged from 11,175 ratings at the time of this writing). It’s worth noting that the albums that rank above Madvillainy—DJ Shadow’s Entroducing…, Nas’s Illimatic, and the top spot of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)—were all made in the 1990s, when hip-hop had (arguably) matured artistically and cemented itself as a staple of modern music. (There’s a reason this time, concurrent to the late 80s, is still referred to as “The Golden Age of Hip-Hop.”) This album essentially cemented the careers of producer Madlib and rapper MF DOOM as well, shooting them into the upper echelons of underground hip-hop, and making them some of the people to work with in the genre. Essentially, we’re talking about an album that, by many, is considered flawless. So what is my beef with it?

Hey! Listen to Julian Lage!

Full disclosure: by a certain metric, this recommendation post is coming in just over a year late. But virtuosic jazz guitarist Julian Lage is one prolific fellow, and has put out not one, not even two, but three releases in the time span between then and now. It’s not hard to see why; the man’s improvisation skills are stunning to behold, tossing out fully realized lead moments left and right with comfortable ease.