With a sound that is reminiscent of both Alex Chilton and the cheekier side of UK powerpop, Rhode Island artist Andy Lampert is not lacking in wry humor. First, he named his 15-song debut album 10 Songs of Pain (does it have five happy songs?), and even better, he comes up with a dandy of a chorusing his track “Even I Can Dream”, singing measuredly, “I am trying not to lose my friggin’ mind.” It’s a wonderful expression of modern despair that we all can relate to.
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As a painfully white dude, I feel like there’s a pretty finite amount of value I can bring to the conversation around Kendrick Lamar’s latest opus so I’m sure everyone will take this for what it’s worth. One of the many beauties of To Pimp a Butterfly is its brazen complexity. The album is a extended celebration of blackness that refuses to elide the conflict and contradictions inherent in that identity that are often suppressed for one reason or another in American national discourse. The fact that Kendrick can release an interlude like “For Free” as a single showcases not only the album’s ridiculous depth, but also his deftness as a songwriter. It’s a 2:13 double entendre about both the worth of black males in relationships and the insidiousness poisoning of black culture by American consumerism. That would be impressive enough but to back the whole thing with some straight-up jazz riffing from Robert Glasper and still make it commercially viable in 2015 is nothing short of spectacular. Kendrick’s albums seem to be generating a prodigious output of singles like Michael Jackson in his heyday and it’s just as thrilling now as it must have been then.—JOHN M. TRYNESKI (8/10)
(8 of 10)
Starting out plaintive and gradually becoming something a lot more ominous, like a storm rolling in on a sweltering day, “Room For One” encapsulates what Brooklyn trio Bodies Be Rivers do so well on their self-titled debut EP, which comes out today. Accompanying it is a beautifully sparse, minimal video for the track, which you can watch below.
What is this? A new single that rocks? Rare as unicorn teeth, but here it is. He throws everything in: Portentous guitars, impassioned backing vocals, super orchestral splashes thrown around for kicks. Essentially it’s a track about itself and music in general, the “healing” in the song being the healing of “The Healing”. The theme saves the day because lyrically “The Healing” is not that interesting. The only thing better than a song about itself is a song where the singer references himself in a “Move over, Rover / Let Jimi take over” type manoeuvre. Word of advice for young Gary, there can never be an excess of rock. No-one has ever earnestly complained, “This song rocks too much.” So feel free to cut loose. The end of the track could have benefited from just that.—PAUL DUFFUS (8/10)
Harmless mid-90s ‘alt rock’ balladeering. Picture Claire Danes staring forlornly out a window, twisting the ends of her plaid shirt between her fingers. Will Jared Leto ever see her? I mean, ‘really’ see her—for her? A tear rolls as “Skin” plays idly in the background. Except it’s 20 years later now and Claire is fighting terrorists and Jared is the Joker, so you might well ask if “Skin” is really what the world needs. Still, it jangles, it rises, it falls. Lyrically there’s a lot of talk about pain and crying and “not being satisfied”, the kind of thing that writes itself. Innocuous, unnecessary nostalgia.—PAUL DUFFUS (4/10)
"We got our "news" from these two satirists, and their protégés, Noah and Wilmore, surely hope for such loyalty. What is Stewart and Colbert's legacy? What does the future hold for them -- and us?READ the article