Mendelsohn: The last couple of times we’ve had to do an Elvis Costello record, I have been nothing but receptive. Normally, I find Costello’s music to be fun and refreshing. This week you’ve handed me Costello’s Imperial Bedroom, and to be honest, I’m not entirely impressed. It’s a good record, mostly well-thought out, excellent production—everything is spot on, but it’s missing the frenetic energy that punctuated Costello’s early releases (There are also a couple other differences I’m sure we will get to in a little bit). But while I was wandering around this album trying to figure out why it wasn’t clicking, I got bored and started looking up old reviews. I don’t normally check the old reviews, simply because most music critics are wankers, and nobody cares what they have to say. But with nothing else going on I decided to do it anyway. For the most part, Imperial Bedroom received glowing reviews. Until I got to Robert Christgau, who called the album pretentious (and that man knows the meaning of the word, believe you me). I could see that, Christgau. I don’t find it exactly pretentious, but it seems like Costello’s need for studio experimentation is going a little against his own grain. Sort of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
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Blues rocker Reed Turchi steps outside his band TURCHI for a solo turn that shows off his musical influences, including Randy Newman, JJ Cale, and T Rex. Speaking in Shadows dials back the blues a bit and gets some Memphis soul grooves going that lend these songs a funky quality. Case in point is “Everybody’s Waiting”, a tune that shows off those Newman touches with its relaxed, pop/soul vibe. Despite the upbeat melody and beats, the song has some serious undertones.
Shooting a gun in a game is a simple action. You aim a cursor at a target and press a button to pull the virtual trigger. It’s a simple action, but when you look at a standard controller and all the buttons used for shooting, the action quickly gets complicated. Suddenly there’s a button for looking down the sights of the gun, for reloading the gun, for crouching, for switching guns, for activating a secondary function of the gun. Then, there’s all the complexities not linked to a button: knowing when to reload, how fast each gun reloads, how recoil affects your aim, that looking down the sights improves accuracy, that crouching improves accuracy, that moving decreases accuracy, that running prevents you from shooting, etc., etc. Seen this way, the modern shooter is actually a damned complicated beast.
Timothy Gabriele: One thing I thoroughly enjoy about our current era is the bafflement of old industry types scrambling to figure out why the SoundCloud singles don’t wind up on the album, consistently throwing all their weight behind the notion that only the LP legitimizes the single, unable to face the new reality of streaming music. It should shock no one that “Bitch Better Have My Money”, the best thing Rihanna dropped in 2015, didn’t make its way to Anti. It’s practically the definition of a one-off. My wife and I are convinced it was written on a total misogynistic tip (Kanye’s a co-writer on the track, as is Travis Scott), but Rihanna just claimed it as her own. It’s like Rihanna’s own version of Tori Amos’ Strange Little Girls. The video would seem to continue the simple gender swap, exchanging horror film tropes of the male serial killer stalking unwitting females, but much of the video is spent tormenting and humiliating Mads Mikkelsen’s wife. It’s unclear if there is a feminist core to this, but unlike “American Oxygen”, which played safe by making its politics vague and opaque, “Bitch Better Have My Money” is murky and imperfect, nasty and aggressive, and a banger to boot. [8/10]
John Garratt: It’s nice when Massive Attack does more than just vamp for Tricky. Take away the vocals and you still have yourself an intoxicating trip-hop brew—in waltz time at that! Having said all that, the narrative arc of the video is lost on me (Drunk? Tired? Diseased? What?) and the spontaneous fits of dancing wander too close to Thriller and/or zombie fascination. Someone check in with that singing fetus from “Teardrop” for availability. [7/10]