Alleged Gunmen, "Showdown at Sundown"
I don't remember getting this, it's apparently from 2004, so it wasn't some random Bandcamp find. They don't seem to have any links to other bands in Discogs, despite sounding very familiar. And, I'm sad to say, it's a depressing thing to search for right now, so I guess I'll leave it at that.
Be didn't break open new ground, not really. But it's such a good album from start to finish. It's my favorite from Common because everything is just dialed in perfectly. This is just the intro song, and it goes incredibly hard thanks to that upright bass and the sweet strings, and Common just relaxing into it and slinging his verses. I listened to this twice while I was making this list.
JPEGMAFIA, "Rainbow Six"
Murky and strange, this seems to be actively hostile to the listener in many of the same ways that a lot of the metal we get around here is. It's offputting initially while our brains have to rearrange to make sense of what's going on. I find that kind of thing interesting, intoxicating even, so I actively seek out things that mess with me.
A Tribe Called Quest, "We The People...."
I've already mentioned my wonder at the reunion A Tribe Called Quest album being good, but it bears repeating: it's excellent. And that's not just grading on a curve against expectations. It's not that I expected it to be depressing and it was OK. No, it's just straight up a good Tribe record.
There are lots of throwbacks to various eras in punk, but 9th & Walnut is the Descendents throwing it back to themselves. The albums is named after their original practice space, the songs were written in the late 70s, the musical tracks were laid down a couple decades ago by the original members of the band (Tony Lombardo, Frank Navetta, and Bill Stevenson), and just recently were the vocals added and the album was released. The Frankenstein approach to the album doesn't really come through in the music, but honestly, these guys have their formula and can crank things out. Is it a great record? No, not really. Is it necessary? Again, no. Is it fun? Yeah, it's fun for me, a guy who listened to a lot of the Descendents as a kid.