"'And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow' gently bombards you with one fantastic tune after another" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes in praise of Weyes Blood's new album (it's Petridis' Album of the Week). Pitchfork finds "a dispatch from the center of catastrophe—an idiosyncratic set of love songs and secular hymns with lushly orchestral arrangements" (tagged it Best New Music). The Line of Best Fit hears "a timeless classic, this record is one that you can revisit whenever you want to hear the comforting sounds of another soul trying to figure it all out". NME goes beyond the album itself: "By being pliable, open and more tender, Mering seems to suggest, perhaps we can save ourselves from the doom that this stunning record finds itself gripped within".

"A tribute to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s extraordinary life and career, Madison Thomas’s 'Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On' is as captivating and vital as its legendary subject, the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar" - Tiff reviews the new documentary about the Canadian activist and musician. "Her spirit shines, her wit and warmth blast through the screen and her many talents inspire" - What She Said insists.

"Dream Unending sounds very much like what they are: two gifted, experienced metal musicians trying to capture a colossal and elusive feeling that goes beyond subcultural identification or, indeed, earthly limits. It’s bewildering, and it’s beautiful" - Stereogum writes highly of the new album by dream-doom band Dream Unending. Pitchfork states that DU's "monuments to melancholy have never felt so crushing or beautiful", (tagged it Best New Music, grade 8.5). 

"It would take the second comings of John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver and Lee Morgan to threaten to dislodge it" - All About Jazz says reviewing the London drummer's debut album. Tom Skinner is the co-founder of Sons of Kemet, and the Smile, whereas on 'Voices...' he is accompanied by bassist Tom Herbert of the influential Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, tenor saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings of SOK and The Comet Is Coming, as well as Nubya Garcia and cellist Kareem Dayes. "As jazz supergroups go, this is the coyote's cojones", AAZ points out, calling the album "exalted jazz... by turns tumultuous... and meditative".

"It’s easy to downplay the courage it takes for celebrities to let down their guard and acknowledge their frailties or fallibility, revealing a side of herself the public doesn’t always see. That alone makes the message significant" - CNN writes in a review of Selena Gomez new doc 'My Mind & Me'. Guardian appreciates the singer revealing herself: "'My Mind & Me' captures her terror and ultimate relief in coming forward with her bipolar diagnosis and documents her genuinely remarkable efforts to destigmatize mental illness".

"Invigorating and intimidating, an album that crackles with the tension of a city where money and power collide with people just trying to get by" - Stereogum writes in review of NY punks' Show Me The Body album 'Trouble The Water', which they describe as "a blend of scrappy punk and dirt-blasted electronics that adopts the cadence of hip-hop and incorporates a whole lot of banjo". Guardian hears "an exciting and urgent call to come together and kick off – at once a reflection of, and a cathartic release from, volatile times". whereas Pitchfork says they populate "a swamp of chugs with weird creatures of electronica and sudden clearings of melodic, galloping punk".

Dawn Richard

"The New Orleans singer-songwriter’s evolution from expressly commercial pop to avant-garde experimentalism is beginning to parallel Scott Walker’s in its unexpected audacity" - Stereogum reviews the collaborative album'Pigments' by Dawn Richard who wrote the lyrics for it, and Spencer Zahn, who wrote music "at the intersection of ECM jazz, ambient, and neoclassical composition". Clash Music hears "a truly refreshing body of work, a seamless experience", whereas Flood Magazine calls it "a rousing, experimental triumph".

Rita Baghdadi's documentary 'Sirens' intimately chronicles the lives and music of Slave to Sirens, the only Lebanese female metal band, "whose burgeoning fame is set against the backdrop of the Lebanese revolution. Its members wrestle with friendship, sexuality, and destruction as their music serves as a refuge to Beirut’s youth culture". Critics give it favorable scores, with NYC Movie Guru describing it as a "moving, intimate and provocative".

"'ILYSM' spends less time staring down death and unabashedly embracing life than it does in a liminal space of illness — not necessarily cancer, but some kind of sickness, whether it’s depression or COVID or even just a nasty hangover, something to live through with the promise of reentering real life at a later date" - Ian Cohen writes in the Stereogum review of Wild Pink's new album (the album was written as frontman John Ross was treated for cancer). NPR has another perspective on the album: "In lingering, in asking the listener to linger too, to pause and take stock of the softest strums, the goldfinch and nuthatch, Ross dilates the seconds into minutes, minutes into expanses to which entire records could be devoted. If one loses a moment's edges, for an instant, they can have it forever".

"The scripts are sharp, pacy, funny and cleverly structured to provide each key player in the story with a voice. The performances are great without straying into bluster or scenery chewing, and there's a constant motion in the narrative that keeps you utterly captivated". TechRadar reviews the new Netflix series about Spotify. Guardian says it's worth watching: "A worthy exercise about how much the tech industry loves to corrupt good intentions".

"The scars in Ka’s music come with lessons he feels duty-bound to pass on. For the first time, he steps fully into the role of teacher, claiming the title of griot for his era of wounded street soldiers"- Pitchfork writes in a review of Ka's 'Languish Arts' and 'Woeful Studies'. "The Brooklyn rapper’s two new albums set hard-earned wisdom to the lushest music of his career" - The P points out.

From the relics of strife and destruction, the duo of Moor Mother and DJ Haram use raw materials at hand to mend, build and redesign. The fabrics they use include fringe club music, hip hop sampling, Middle Eastern drums, slam poetry, - punk rock, jazz and noise, all coalescing in a knife-edge fashion, keenly political above all else" - Beats per Minute stresses introducing the debut album by 700 Bliss. The Line of Best Fit insists "'Nothing To Declare' is peculiar in both sound and concept... a great project bursting with genre-bending sounds and heart-wrenching lyrics that perfectly capture the times". Pitchfork called it a "noisy, thrillingly confrontational album".

"'Mr Morale & the Big Steppers' is absolutely crammed with lyrical and musical ideas" - Alexis Petridis writes reviewing the new album by Kendrick Lamar. Clash Music is equally enthused: "One of his most profound, complex, revelatory statements yet, a double album fuelled by sonic ambition, the will to communicate, and Kendrick’s staunch refusal to walk the easy path". Consequence hears "another bonafide masterpiece", whereas NME says "this album is as much about struggle as it is freedom, and what a beautiful sentiment that is".

"The album is the sound of a band stretching into new shapes" - NME writes in a review of Fontaines D.C.'s 'Skinty Fia'. It's also Alexis Petridis' Album of the Week, because - "In a polarised era, there’s something cheering about Fontaines DC’s bold refusal to join in, to deal instead in shades of grey and equivocation. There’s also something bold about their disinclination to rely on the most immediate aspect of their sound". Pitchfork tries to go to the bottom of it: "The Irish post-punk band’s most demanding and musically adventurous album is also its most open-hearted,  striking a perfect balance between tough and tender".

"'Aethiopes' is a dense text full of bursts of language that demand serious thought and analysis. You could transcribe all of woods’ lyrics on the album and sell them as a poetry book, and on paper, they’d cut deeper than most of the (admittedly very little) poetry that I’ve forced myself to read over the years. But this isn’t homework. This is a rap record, and it’s a great one" - Stereogum writes reviewing billy woods' new album. "With Preservation behind the boards on every track, 'Aethiopes' skids across eras, countries, and cultures... A clear mid-career apex that shoves woods’ always outlandish style into territories further afield than ever before" - Pitchfork wrote.

"The best songs on 'Diaspora Problems' master this balance of chaotic hardcore with more approachable hooks and a wide palette of non-hardcore styles" - Consequence reviews the new album by the Philadelphia band. Exclaim believes the album makes them "one of the most important heavy bands in 2022". Ian Cohen calls it "staggering... a ticking time bomb hurled by a band tired of waiting on solutions and taking power into its own hands". The band is very political, what they emphasize in the Guardian interview: "The real political character of America is just sheer apathy and a focus on oneself, for the sake of survival”.

In the aeroplane, over the sea
February 17, 2022

Black Country, New Road - "beautifully doomed fantasies"

"Music isn’t just about fun: it can be about creating remarkable soundworlds of baroque pop fantasias, and this band are outstanding at those" - the Observer looks into the new Black Country, New Road album 'Ants from Up There'. Ian Cohen hears an emo album because "they spend every second reminding us of why we let ourselves get swept up in these beautifully doomed fantasies to begin with". Music OMH says it "sounds as though Black Country, New Road are less concerned with making a statement, more willing to let their songs unravel slowly instead of uncoiling with jack-in-the-box furore".

How to listen to Dragon?
February 11, 2022

Big Thief new album 'Dragon...' - "ambitious and unburdened"

"In 20 songs, Big Thief have rambled far beyond the bounds of their previous catalog... 'Dragon...' is as heavy in its lyrical concerns as any previous Big Thief record, and more ambitious in its musical ideas than all of them. But it also sounds unburdened, animated by a newfound sense of childlike exploration and play. Twenty times, it asks 'What should we do now?', and twenty times it finds a new answer" - Pitchfork really appreciates playful new Big Thief album (9.0 score, Best New Music tag). NME finds similar joy: "the band employ some weird methods that ultimately end up making sense; often allowing their varied surroundings to creep into the creative process". Spin calls it "an overwhelming effort, aiming for band’s magnum opus".

"Dan Charnas’ book, 'Dilla Time', is a fascinating, immersive look at J Dilla’s impact both during his lifetime and beyond: the producer’s relationships and upbringing, his musical interventions, and the contentious dispute over who gets to control his posthumous legacy" - Pitchfork presents the new book about the late hip-hop producer. They also share an excerpt.

Pitchfork likes the new documentary 'Meet Me in the Bathroom', based on Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 book chronicling the New York City’s early-millennium rock boom: "It’s a thrill seeing the Strokes wow stage-jumping British fans, revisiting the uncanny brilliance of TV on the Radio’s 'Ambulance', and witnessing LCD Soundsystem becoming a band in real time in an unhinged rendition of 'Daft Punk Is Playing at My House' where Murphy howls like Jim Morrison".

“The pandemic pointed me to the necessity of there being some rhythmic backbone. I had to use some drums, because you can’t be floating right now” - Earl Sweatshirt says about his latest album 'Sick!' in a Pitchfork interview. Stereogum argues "'SICK!' is still sharper and more tangible than the foggy, atmospheric doubt-trips of Earl’s last few records. Earl’s voice is higher in the mix. There’s less blurry noise around the edges of the tracks. The drums kick more. The melodic loops resolve".

The top of the needle
December 23, 2021

The Needle Drop selects 50 best albums of 2021

YouTube music critic The Needle Drop also comes out with his selection of best albums of 2021. A really very versatile selection, covering genres such as death metal, classical music, rock, conceptual pop... The top 5 albums chosen by The Needle Drop: St. Vincent, Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra, Arca, Lingua Ignota, and Spelling.

The fellowship of the Quarrymen
November 26, 2021

New Beatles documentary: A feast for fans

Arguably the most intimate look at the inner workings of the Beatles you’re ever likely to get" - Stereogum reviews the new 3-part Beatles documentary. SG adds: "Although the setting is not all that visually striking, the cinematography is gorgeous — and thanks to Jackson’s CGI restoration of the 16mm footage, the reality of it all almost feels heightened at times, like you’re watching actors playing these characters in a hyper-detailed period piece".

"The film draws many lines between the treatment of Morissette as a teen pop star—starvation diets, long working hours and sexual abuse included—and the rage and catharsis she channeled on 'Jagged Little Pill'. One of the things that makes 'Jagged' most compelling as a film is an undercurrent that runs throughout about exploitative men in the music industry and where that leaves female artists. There's a sense of dread that casts a shadow, if not on Morissette's stage, then certainly in the wings of it" - KQED reviews the new Alison Klayman documentary. New York Times describes it as "an unsettling portrait of the structural and behavioral sexism pervasive in the music world".

"The performer who emerged amid the skyline of the Strip came with a vibe—explosive, poetic, passionate, true—that reverberated deep into the souls of the 50,000+ festival-goers who turned up to see him" - Consequence reviews Kendrick Lamar's first US performance in two years. Billboard puts it simply: "Kendrick Lamar's Day N Vegas performance was art". Rolling Stone describes it as "casually dazzling".

"Drinking from the same ancestral well that informed earlier radical Black music is integral to Irreversible Entanglements’ approach: after all, they are passionate and angry for many of the same reasons as the aforementioned [the Last Poets, the New York Art Quartet, Archie Shepp], because far too many of the circumstances remain the same. The fight isn’t over... It’s righteous music, hopefully as a prelude to righteous action" - The Quietus writes in a review of jazz/hip-hop band's new album 'Open the Gates'. "Although this ensemble boast conservatoire rigour, their revolutionary, Afrofuturist music is imbued with punk spirit, a love of ambient spaciousness and electronics" - Guardian insists.

“Inside a song, you are neither here nor there, a liminal feeling that evokes so much of our time in life languishing in the middle. Call it meta-heartland rock” - Pitchfork writes about their lates Best New Music choice, The War on Drugs’ ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’. Mojo insists it’s a “calm space amid a world in collapse”, whereas NME points out “there’s magic everywhere you look on this triumph of an album”.

"'Geist', an album largely focused on spiritual shifts and ruptures, is a quiet, lovely, undramatic rendering of the dramatic... How ruination can lead to resurrection, and life can feel sweetest when one surrenders to change" - Pitchfork reviews the new album by Shannon Lay. Clash describes it as "the vulnerable soundtrack to a person’s self-discovery during a period of long, hard reflection", whereas Narc hears "an incredibly beautiful and delicate record". Dusted likes the comforting side of it - "it’s humble, heartening and wise".

"In a postmodern pop cultural moment, when notions of purism and authenticity seem irredeemably old-fashioned, it may seem like an odd time to write a book that is not only a history of popular music’s defining categories – rock, R&B, country, punk, hip-hop, dance and pop – but an unapologetic defence of them" - Guardian writes in a review of a new book 'Major Labels' by Kelefa Sanneh, about music’s top categories. The G concludes that "devotion to a sound, whether hip-hop or hardcore, is essentially about community and belonging; a way to signify our togetherness and signal our difference, often through allegiance to one style at the expense of all others".

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