The third unabridged version of Oompa is a kind of letting go. She has never shied away from sharing difficult personal stories while becoming one of the most prominent figures in local hip-hop, but dwelling on the past has never been a dream, and “UNBOTHERED” declares that she gives priority to joy. Sometimes that means spreading gratitude, like in the opener “AMEN”, or showing talent, like on the booming “LEBRON”, but it’s not all pure celebration: the title song separates the man-made self-care practices of the real deal, and sultry and touching moments throughout the record relish small moments and quiet contentment along the way.
Kitner – “Shake the Towers”
A debut album in the works for six years, Kitner’s “Shake the Spins” can make you dizzy from alcohol, heartache or nightly nostalgia – it’s packed with all three. And of course, a lot can happen in six years: Favorite dives are filled with memories, regulars are replaced by new faces, relationships get complicated or outdated. But Kitner tells it all with melancholy and melancholic rock songs that build from muffled melodies to vital and soaring choruses. Across the record, songs (and nights) merge and ricochet between partying and picking up songs, but triumph by sounding haunting even when depressed.
Alexandre – “Difficult freedom”
True to his mononym, Boston-based folk artist Alexander takes a less is more approach to song, and his third album is all about that sense of intimacy based on first name. On “Difficult Freedom,” he explores self-inflicted pressure and shame in sleepy-voiced melodies that come to life against soft fingering. The atmosphere is fragile but pretty, warmed by the occasional interjections of piano and lap steel and anchored by a slowcore intensity. It all echoes his upset thoughts, but as he reinvents the scriptures and questions his own ideas about comfort and happiness, he moves in a promising direction.
Olivia Sisay – “Salt of the Atlantic”
Olivia Sisay opens her first album with superimposed harmonies that interpolate Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s interpretation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, but this reverie quickly gives way to slow-burning folk rock which makes “Atlantic Salt” vibrate. It’s a record fueled by the malaise of the intermediate states: swapping her home for a new city, disentangling love from comfort and affection, navigating romance and friendships as a young queer woman. Sisay’s voice is equally at home against rough, vibrant arrangements and shattering reverberation as she charts the way forward. There is no “above the rainbow” to be found here, but “Salt of the Atlantic” reinforces the understanding that when there is no easy way to overcome something. thing, sometimes you just have to go through it.
Pink navel – “Epic”
Pink Navel’s ever-growing Bandcamp page may indicate a twisty tale, but the prolific Pembroke-based rapper’s latest take on is mostly ‘epic’ in the early slang sense, powered by an extremely online take on the awesome. and joyful excitement. Backed by sampled vlogs and lo-fi glitch beats – all originally produced live on Twitch, of course – Devin Bailey’s half-howled bars bounce from TikTok to the anime at MF DOOM, dropping doubles feel all the time. The effect is dizzying, but underneath all that experimental flair, it’s a story about the frustration and joys of growing up online and making your way serious as a digital creator.