Atmosphere, "The Family Sign"
This long-running Minneapolis hip-hop crew has grown by two since its left-field 2008 commercial hit "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold." Guitarist Nate Collis and keyboardist Erick Anderson are now full-on Atmosphere members (joining rapper Slug and producer Ant), and the result on "The Family Sign" is the group's most song-oriented material yet. Melodic, slow-rolling cuts like "The Last to Say" and "Who I'll Never Be" call to mind such late-'90s crossover jams as Sublime's "What I Got" or "What It's Like" by Everlast. As the album's title suggests, Slug primarily concerns himself here with matters of home and family, but it's hardly a Hallmark affair. "Don't ever forget to put misery on the guest list," he growls over a humid goth-blues beat on the track "I Don't Need Brighter Days," while "Bad Bad Daddy" finds him admitting to bringing his nine children with him to the bar. ("They all got an attitude," he raps, "mad 'cause I said we can't go to the zoo.") Think the kids are all right?