Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - 'Wig Out at Jagbags' (Matador)
2014 marks the 15th year of Stephen Malkmus' post-Pavement career, and with 'Wig Out at Jagbags,' the boy with a new haircut has arrived with his sixth studio album with The Jicks. Sure, Malkmus is as American as apple pie, but 'Wig Out' was inspired in part by his move to Berlin, where he and his family for two years lived a "liberating fantasy" under the city's alienating influence. Or, as Malkmus described it: "Projected Imaginings of ROck and ROll from the freezing north, rendered by West Coast stalwarts and a Dutch Uncle." Look for 'Wig Out' this week on Matador.
Angel Haze - 'Dirty Gold' (Republic)
"Bitch put an album out / I think my album's more done than yours and I just started a week ago." So went the lyrics to Angel Haze's 'On The Edge,' an Azealia Banks diss track that kicked off 2013 with some certified angus beef. It's 2014 now, and while Azealia's debut is still waiting for an official release date, Angel Haze "convinced" her label Republic to finally release her debut album, 'Dirty Gold,' just before the new year -- three months before its scheduled release date. How? By momentarily streaming it for free on SoundCloud. What a negotiation tactic! Your move, Azealia.
Pixies - 'EP-2'
After receiving critical acclaim for the majority of their musical careers, the members of Pixies were faced with very little last year following the release of their comeback release, 'EP-1.' They soon got hit with even more bad publicity after bassist Kim Shattuck (Kim Deal's replacement) was unceremoniously fired from the band and then replaced by Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan, Brightblack Morning Light, etc.). So how can their latest release, 'EP-2,' possibly change this trajectory? Apparently with more cowbell. Check out their single 'Blue Eyed Hexe' below, and order the EP digitally or on limited-edition 10-inch vinyl at the group's website.
Del the Funky Homosapien - 'Iller Than Most'
At 41, Teren Delvon Jones is still going strong. Jones, better known as Del The Funky Homosapien, resurrected Deltron 3030 last year with Dan The Automator and Kid Koala for their first album since their 2000 debut, and has been releasing a steady stream of solo material since 2008. His latest offering is the modestly titled 'Iller Than Most,' a "futuristic and fun" 11-track album produced entirely by the Oakland rapper himself, uploaded to SoundCloud out of seemingly nowhere (though I'd guess from a 31st-century New World Order). Del calls it "lyrically ill but fun to listen to, nothing super heavy." Can't argue with that.
French Montana - 'Coke Boys 4'
Originally slated to disrupt our Christmas, French Montana dropped the fourth edition in his 'Coke Boys' mixtape series late last week. It's a massive 18-cut collection that's heavy on the guestlist (much like his 2013 studio debut, 'Excuse My French'), making space for everyone from Snoop Dogg and Diddy, to Coke Boys members Lil Durk and Chinx Drigz. And all you have to do is download it.
Young Scooter - 'Street Lottery 2'
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Following last year's January release of his acclaimed 'Street Lottery' mixtape, Young Scooter is back with his second installment. The Freebandz/1017 Brick Squad affiliate originally announced guest spots from Wyclef Jean and Birdman, but they're nowhere to be found on the final track list. But fear not: there are plenty of all-stars here, including Chief Keef, Future, Cam'ron, Waka Flocka Flame, and Wiz Khalifa.
Sicko Mobb - 'Super Saiyan Vol. 1'
"We don't juke no more, we boppin'!" Yes, the teenage Westside Chicago duo Sicko Mobb are making a microscene statement with their debut mixtape, 'Super Saiyan Vol. 1,' and they're doing it through Auto-Tune and bouncy, bubbly production. With nods to Chief Keef and an appearance by Lil Durk, young guns Lil' Trav and Lil' Ceno apparently mean business. Something tells me that you'll be hearing plenty more from the duo this year, and that something is Stellar Songs/Water Music Publishing, a Stargate imprint of Sony/ATV who just signed the group.
Steve Moore - 'Pangaea Ultima' (Spectrum Spools)
With numerous releases since 2007 on labels as varied as Relapse, Moon Glyph, and Temporary Residence Limited, Steve Moore has amassed a good amount of experience in the underground community. His latest release, 'Pangaea Ultima,' extends that experience with nine insular, atemporal, myth-making tracks for John Elliott (Emeralds)'s Spectrum Spools imprint, exploring an imaginary future that some geologists predict could very well result in the super-continent referred to in the album's title.
Nacho Picasso - 'Trances With Wolves - The Prixtape'
Give the man some Red Bull and Claritin, Nacho Picasso is back in the rap game with 'Trances With Wolves - The Prixtape.' It's a seven-track mixtape that follow his Halloween release of 'High & Mighty,' featuring rhymes from Avatar Darko and Gifted Gab, and production from Jake One, Raised Byy Wolves, SAT, and more. If history is any indication, you can expect many more Nacho Picasso releases in 2014.