Brice Ezell: There’s an oddity to the standard critical narrative of the Weeknd’s music following his major commercial breakthrough, 2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness. For years, critics invoked comparisons to Michael Jackson when discussing Abel Tesfaye’s voice. That comparison played a factor in the high praise bestowed upon the Weeknd’s Trilogy mixtapes, particularly the lauded House of Balloons (2011). Yet since Tesfaye hit it big last year thanks to mega-hit singles like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”, there’s a growing perception that the Weeknd has “sold out” by candy-coating his nihilist R&B for a commercial audience. There are credible arguments to be made about whether or not Kiss Land (2013) or Beauty Behind the Madness are better or worse than the Trilogy mixtapes, but those arguments shouldn’t have anything to do with the Weeknd being “too pop”. After all, if you’re gonna compare Tesfaye to the King of Pop, you shouldn’t be surprised when he starts flirting with a pop audience.
Latest Blog Posts
Adriane Pontecorvo: It may be a veritable standard of electronic music, but the beauty of “Teardrop” is organic, evoking a single opening flower, the smell of rain and earth, everything delicate and fueled by the forces of nature. This is a song that embraces, a song that glows, a song with a steady, pulsing heartbeat beneath simple rhythms and Elizabeth Fraser’s eerily lilting vocals. Now, of course, it’s an instantly recognizable classic of downtempo, that’s likely no surprise to anyone who first heard it when it first began to hypnotize in 1998. Few songs have that same pull, and though Massive Attack has continued to release many a gem since then, none have the raw, elemental beauty of this breakthrough masterpiece. “Teardrop” is every bit as haunting and iconic today as it was 18 years ago. [10/10]
Eclectic pop jazz orchestra Pink Martini is releasing their latest album, Je dis oui, on November 18th via Heinz Records and we’ve got a new song to share with you. “Pata Pata” is a classic South African song first performed by the legendary Miriam Makeba. The tune was so important to her, being both a feminist and anti-apartheid song. Of the song, bandleader Thomas Lauderdale says “I’ve loved this song for years. When it debuted, it was widely seen as a feminist statement against apartheid. When we were recording this, our Greek trombonist Antonis Andreou was whistling along, and I said, “That sounds incredible!” So I had him record the whistling and I think that it really makes the song!” It’s a rollicking and infectious number sure to create a party atmosphere. Somehow, Pink Martini always work their special charm to make their music irresistible.
One of the earliest retro synth acts, Dynatron offers listeners a moving and meditative experience across these five pieces, whether the opening “The Tristar” (at times reminiscent of Wendy Carlos’s most foreboding work), the pulsing, heavier-than-you-might-think “Contact” or the closing “The Unknown”, a piece that transcends genre boundaries and will appeal, as does the whole recording, to a variety of audiences.
Sarah Zupko: Ital Tek’s Hollowed is perhaps the finest electronic album of 2016 in a year when electronic releases have been truly astounding. “Beyond Sight” is also one of the finest tracks on Hollowed, bettered only by the haunting choral work of “Redeemer”, which reminds me occasionally of Mozart’s Requiem. “Beyond Sight” exemplifies the Ital Tek aesthetic which emphasizes movement and direction and shows off the skills of a cerebral and accomplished creator who in another century would be a celebrated classical composer. [9/10]
// Sound Affects
"More sock-hop than hip-hop, soulster Timothy Bloom does a stunning '50s revamp on contemporary R&B.READ the article