The National awaken on “Day I Die”

If you jumped on the bandwagon during the High Violet era like I did, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking the National had submitted themselves to a life of downcast ballads and slow-burning epics. That album, along with its follow-up, the perhaps even better Trouble Will Find Me – signaled a band operating at maximum efficiency, following a certain template with enough variations so nothing ever felt like a retread. The band hardly wipes the slate clean on the recently released “Day I Die,” but they do harken back to their formative albums Alligator and Boxer, channeling those albums’ most hard-charging moments. Continue reading “The National awaken on “Day I Die””

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Haxan Cloak brings new life to Father John Misty’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution”

Pure Comedy – the most recent album from Father John Misty – while being one of the year’s best, is also one of the toughest listens of the year. Whereas his previous albums offered moments of levity, Comedy is an intense, open wound of an album, and its barbs are most pronounced on a new remix of the album’s standout “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution” by the Haxan Cloak. Continue reading “Haxan Cloak brings new life to Father John Misty’s “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution””

Taylor Swift loses herself on “Look What You Made Me Do”

It’s no surprise Taylor Swift delivered her biggest musical left-turn late Thursday night; ever since 1989 ruled the world, it’s been preordained that Swift would go the villainous route with her follow-up, playing a role she was hardly accustomed to playing before. After public feuds with Katy Perry, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian in the past few years, Swift took in more bullets to her armor than ever before. It was only natural for her to air her grievances on the first single from her new project Reputation. What is surprising, then, is just how faceless her newest, “Look What You Made Me Do,” is, how much it runs away from what makes Taylor Swift the most successful American recording artist this decade. Continue reading “Taylor Swift loses herself on “Look What You Made Me Do””

Samantha Urbani comes into focus on her great new Policies of Power EP

Despite only having a handful of solo tunes to her name, it’s easy to feel like Samantha Urbani is already a fully realized artist. That’s partly due to her time as the lead of NYC DIY-ers Friends as well as her show-stopping work on Blood Orange’s Cupid Deluxe, but mostly because Urbani has a knack for crystalline pop melodies as evidenced on “1 2 3 4” and “U Know I Know,” two songs that have been floating around for a couple of years now and find a home here. Continue reading “Samantha Urbani comes into focus on her great new Policies of Power EP”

Arcade Fire miss the mark on EVERYTHING NOW

Arcade Fire has always had big ideas. Ever since the seminal Funeral was released 13 years ago, the band has operated as the 2000s most arena-ready rock act, earning that distinction on the heels of anthemic tracks such as “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” “Wake Up,” “Intervention,” “No Cars Go,” “Ready to Start” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” 2013’s Reflektor was the first sign of cracks in the armor, as the band’s overstuffed, double-disc fourth LP allowed for their least interesting ideas to take shape next to towering cuts such as the title-track and “Afterlife.” With their fifth studio album, Everything Now, the band is still preaching big ideas, but with none of the empathy that made their previous albums universal. Continue reading “Arcade Fire miss the mark on EVERYTHING NOW”