Album Reviews

Has there ever been an artist who needed to release an album less than Bad Bunny? For three years now, this Puerto Rican star, born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, has been gushing hit singles like a broken fire hydrant. His voice, low and droning, is inimitable and absurdly adaptable, equally at home in stadium-ready trap […]

When the story of a desultorily opportunist era in mainstream rap is finally written, 6ix9ine will undoubtedly land a starring role. But give the Brooklyn hip-hop troll credit: he’s critic-proof. Even as he languishes in a New York detention center on federal charges due to his alleged association with the Nine Trey Gangsters, his second […]

The first voice listeners hear on Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt’s latest album, is James Baldwin’s. “Imprecise words,” he says before the pop of vinyl hits. The sample comes from a 1962 recording of Baldwin’s “The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity” speech at New York City’s Community Church. In it, he explains his “distrust” for various words […]

“Nigga like the new Jay-Z” raps firebrand Meek Mill on “Tic Tac Toe.” “Poppin’ like Bad Boy in ’94, Big Poppa and Diddy,” he insists on “What’s Free.” Indeed, the shadow of the Biggie/Jay-Z/Nas era of critical and commercial dominance – circa 1996 to 2003 – looms large on Mill’s fourth studio album, Championships. He raps […]

Anderson .Paak’s third LP Oxnard is his first release on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label, and for longtime fans It’s been interesting (and maybe a bit worrying) to watch him scale up his career goals to meet the ambitions of his new corporate benefactors. There have been subtle placements of his music in NBA broadcasts, less-subtle and omnipresent placements […]

Three years after his last album, Tracker, Mark Knopfler returned with another dependable collection of Irish blues and laidback roots rock. The album’s material ranges from languid lullabys like “My Bacon Roll” and “Floating Away” to the upbeat blues funk of “Back on the Dancefloor” and “Nobody Does That.” At this point in his career, Knopfler tends […]

“We pray to the God/ of collateral children,” sings Rosanne Cash in her verse of “8 Gods of Harlem,” a standout on her 14th studio album that enlists Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Costello as co-writers, each singing a verse in a narrative constellation involving a young man’s death. The song is ghosted by headlines of […]

Don’t get it twisted: there is not a single artist who can match Mariah Carey’s nearly three decades of consistency and resilience. Even when it seems like she’s at a career low (the underrated commercial calamity Glitter)), she comes back swinging for the next round. Caution comes four years after Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse, a solid […]

There’s a tradition of experimental music in which avant-garde ideas are also tender and inviting – think Clara Rockmore, Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Speigel, Laurie Anderson, Robert Wyatt, John Fahey. This duo project feels rooted in that notion. Lattimore’s already made one of the year’s best LPs, the deliciously hypnotic Hundreds of Days, an all-instrumental set built around […]

For more than three decades, J Mascis has created moods even more than he’s written songs. No artist to emerge from the underground in the Eighties captured melancholy quite like he did with Dinosaur Jr. — he always sounded like someone who’d just given up on everything, trying to figure out what went wrong as […]

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