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".

"New York City has long been a character in rap. But 'Half God' is the story of how that character has shaped our protagonist, a young man immersed and in love with its spirit, holding on loosely to an ever-evolving community in which he sees his own reflection" - Pitchfork argues in favor of New York rapper Wiki's new album. Stereogum points out to the producer - "Wiki and Navy Blue display an easy, expansive chemistry".

"Levy’s ear for melody and flair for the dramatic makes for a prime example of how effective this sort of music can be when it’s done this well" - Stereogum argues its latest Album of the week choice. The Skinny appreciates how "its capacity to reach around the edges of an empty room, and equal ability to cut through the sound of life bustling in the background lends it a warm, encompassing quality". Exclaim likes its borderline quality: "The whole thing glows with a particular late-summer energy, its precise, golden hour arrangements hinting at the wide-open chill of fall".

Critics have a lot to say about the latest album by the Arizona rap gang. "Injury Reserve have woven together a darkly contorted tangle of sounds, a collage that hits like a barrage... a record that demands your attention and challenges your perspective released into an age defined by zone-out streaming bait" - Stereogum argue in favor of their choice for Album of the week, calling their music post rap. The New Yorker argues "this is the first of the group’s projects to sound greater than the sum of its parts, to feel singular", and "by far the best" album by the band. Pitchfork appreciates its creativity: "The songs are immediate and intuitive, brimming with personality and ideas".

Unknown pleasures
September 22, 2021

Audius - is the new streaming service any good?

Audius is a brand-new decentralized streaming platform built for all the artists, not just the ones signed with labels. Decrypt reviews it: "Its biggest problem on paper is the fact that there are so few recognisable artists on there, and the ones that you will likely have heard of, don’t have much content uploaded. From another perspective, though, that's a positive advantage; if you're a trendsetter rather than a follower of fashion, it's a great way to discover new and unsigned artists... It offers quality, free streaming, with a quick and easy sign-up process to jump you straight into the action... It’s a refreshing way to dive into the unknown while hopefully discovering some hidden gems along the way".

"It takes her music in a somewhat more accessible direction while retaining the creativity and fervor of the rest of her work. Considerably less noisy than previous Moor Mother releases like her 2016 breakthrough 'Fetish Bones', the album flows through slippery jazz rhythms, mellow R&B vibes, and meditative ambient textures, with Ayewa's lyrics remaining forceful even as she's delivering them in a softer register" - AllMusic quite likes 'Black Encyclopedia in the Air'. Exclaim goes into the genre of it: "Mostly sticking to hip-hop beats and more traditional song structures... Ayewa decides to challenge listeners through performance and her lyrics... Moor Mother uses her genre-agnostic style to tackle to world's most popular genre and make it undoubtedly her own".

"'Hey What' refinements make it clear that they are still finding fresh angles on the same themes that have animated them since the beginning: using minimalism to express the entwined pairing of intimacy and loneliness, searching for meaning in the rubble after a departure too catastrophic to address by name" - Pitchfork says in the review of the new album by the slow-core greats. Here, Low take a slight turn into electronic terrain, although Alexis Petridis insists "the people behind 'Hey What' are redefining how a rock band can sound".

"Documentaries can only be as fascinating as their subjects. That's why this bio/doc will have legs, because even in the afterlife Rick James gives his fans something to talk about" - Dwight Brown Ink give a verdict on the new docu. New York Times deems it "fascinating and troubling viewing". Consequence says "the smartest move 'Bitchin' makes is to just lay all of James' cards out on the table and let the audience figure it out for themselves".

Sometimes she might be the greatest
September 03, 2021

Little Simz releases "rich, fascinating" album 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert'

"It’s Simz’s most personal album yet but also her most removed, in the sense that it’s cinematic and surreal and overwhelming... 'Introvert' is heady and dense and restless — a masterwork" - Stereogum gives a verdict to London rapper's new releases (it's also Stereogum's Album of the Week). Guardian likes the leftfieldness of it - "Voraciously creative, clever and cool...  It is notably non-synthetic and twitchily alive, with Simz’s vocal presence so intense and distinctive it is able to withstand all manner of genre-fickleness". Gigwise insists Simz is at the "highest echelons of British rap".

After much delay, Kanye West has released his 10th album 'Donda' with 27 songs spanning an hour and 48 minutes. The length of it is an issue with the critics. "Nobody needs all 27 of these tracks" - NME insists, adding, "but dig deep into its contents and you’ll find enough gems to make his 10th album worth your time". The Times hears a "sprawling and sometimes brilliant album". Pitchfork says the album is "barely finished and with a lot of baggage. Its 27 tracks include euphoric highs that lack connective tissue, a data dump of songs searching for a higher calling".

Exploring British youth culture of the time, 'Scorcha!: Skins, Suedes and Style From The Streets 1967 -1973' is "a hefty book by Paul Anderson and Mark Baxter. Covering the rise of first the suedeheads and then the skinheads on British streets, it is a fascinating, lovingly compiled piece tracking in detail the fade from the musicality of the modish, ska-loving suedeheads – who were bravely swimming against the prevailing hippy tide in 1967 – into the more brutish skinheads. The attention to interview detail and mountains of picture research is monumental" - The New Cue recommends a new book.

"On his debut album, 'The Long and Short of It', [Graham] Jonson, now 21, reconciles his approach to beat music with a form of bedroom pop, using two genres known for their modular simplicity to create complex psychedelic music with vast emotional horizons" - Pitchfork reviews quickly, quickly (grade it 8.1, don't call it emo-rap). Magnetic describes it as quickly, quickly's "most complex and interesting project to date".

1 2 3 21