Allison Crutchfield keeps the 80s alive on the great “Dean’s Room”

Allison Crutchfield is going back in time. Her music thus far, including P.S. Eliot and Swearin’, has had more in common with 90s alternative rock than 80s synth pop, but she switches up her sonic template on the first single to arrive from the forthcoming Tourist In This Town. Dreamy synths and reverb laden guitars glisten over pounding live drums as Crutchfield throws this change-up, all the while losing none of her personality. “You just want to catch me alone,” she sings, almost as a taunt. You can do that when you’re always two steps ahead.

Tourist In This Town is out 2/3 via Merge.

“Suede” is the smooth center of YES LAWD!

NxWorries is the collaboration between 2016 MVP candidate Anderson .Paak and producer Knowledge, and the two released the great LP Yes Lawd! last Friday (it was an Apple Music exclusive beginning 10/14). The album is full of effortlessly laid back slow jams, with “Suede” finding the duo at their peak. The looping guitar riff, .Paak’s melodic raps; they synthesize the two in creating a remarkably relaxed vibe. Lawd! is full of winning moments,  and “Suede” is one of the better distillations of their sound.

YG uses “One Time Comin'” as a call to arms

YG already released Still Brazy this year, and he’s following that with this one-off single “in loving memory of the victims of police brutality.” “One Time Comin'” snaps with a bool bonfidence, YG taking the anger and frustration found on Brazy cuts “FDT” and “Police Get Away Wit Murder” and repurposing them into a club banger.

Listen to “One Time Comin'” via Apple Music.

Gimme Shelter: Run The Jewels are back

No act has better channeled the anger and frustration of many Americans than Run The Jewels these past few years, dating back to 2012, a year before Run The Jewels would release their debut LP. That was when El-P produced Killer Mike’s great R.A.P. Music, an album the used generations of injustice as fuel for Mike’s incendiary commentary. By the time Run The Jewels was released in the summer of 2013, the country was still coming to terms with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. The rage that outcome incited – not to mention the slow response time in bringing Martin’s killer to trial – permeated their debut, and the countless other horror stories of police brutality set the stage for 2014’s even more incensed follow-up, Run The Jewels 2. If you’ve been paying attention, things haven’t necessarily gotten better since then. Police shootings continue to rip apart communities, and a reality TV star/serial groper has used the Republic party as a launch pad for his gross, alt-right rhetoric that might be good enough to get him inside the White House. Yeah, I’m a little angry, too. Continue reading “Gimme Shelter: Run The Jewels are back”

It’s always sunny for D.R.A.M. on the album of the week, BIG BABY D.R.A.M.

D.R.A.M has every reason to be happy. His underground sensation “Cha Cha” was hot enough for Drake to cop and turn into his biggest hit yet – “Hotline Bling” – while D.R.A.M.’s singles released since have all been met with rousing acclaim. “Broccoli” was the song of the summer for those who were doing it right, while “Cash Machine” and “Cute” found D.R.A.M. going gung ho with his aw shucks aesthetic. And after spending time with Big Baby D.R.A.M. – released 10/21 – it’s apparent the demeanor he’s so effectively translated to music isn’t capable of wearing thin, at least not yet. Big Baby is the most colorful rap release this side of Coloring Book, an album so unabashedly joyful it’s remarkable it never smothers with its charm. Continue reading “It’s always sunny for D.R.A.M. on the album of the week, BIG BABY D.R.A.M.”

JOANNE is Lady Gaga’s most radical transformation

When she broke through in 2009, we were still capable of being shocked. But since Lady Gaga debuted, a lot more shocking and disturbing things have happened than seeing her in a meatdress or an egg or using religious imagery in a music video. So what is a Lady Gaga album if it isn’t meant to shock or challenge? If you ever asked yourself that question, her new album gives us an answer. Continue reading “JOANNE is Lady Gaga’s most radical transformation”

Solange rises above on “Cranes in the Sky”

I’ve already written words on the great Solange album A Seat at the Table, but today I wanted to highlight a song that’s quickly becoming one of my personal favorites. “Cranes in the Sky” stuns by the sheer magnitude of its beauty and honesty. “I tried to drink it away,” Solange frankly sings at the open, diving in headfirst on a song about escaping demons, her own and those socially constructed. Drinking failed her, as did dancing, as did sex, as did breaking up. It turns out escaping, blocking out those demons is a lost cause; there’s only one way to wash them away. As the song reaches its finale, Solange reaches deep into her vocal register and delivers a soul-piercing falsetto. “It’s like cranes in the sky,” sings Solange on the chorus, “sometimes I don’t want to feel those metal clouds.” By the end of “Cranes in the Sky,” she rises above even those metal clouds. She’s out of her cage and ready to fly. Continue reading “Solange rises above on “Cranes in the Sky””