Chris Ingalls: My immediate reaction upon hearing this song in its entirety is one of complete lack of surprise. That is to say, it sounds exactly like what you would expect Radiohead to sound like in 2016. Thom Yorke’s mournful, processed vocals, light effects with a gorgeous minor-key piano, strings, an eventual insistent bass line. This is a band that always keeps things filled with tension. Even something as beautiful as a ballad needs to be spooky. Radiohead have spent the last 20-plus years making music on their own terms and the result is almost always soaring, moody, and brilliant. [9/10]
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Grammy-winning Bonnie Bishop had left music behind when she got a call from Americana producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell). After 13 years in the music business, Bishop had an awakening one night at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville as she realized all of her long hard work had been for naught, slowly going broke with no manager or agent. So she headed home to Texas to reassess and ended up applying and getting accepted into the prestigious the University of the South creative writing graduate program. It was while focusing on her writing that Cobb made that fateful calling, praising her for the honesty in her music. Cobb was intrigued and wanted to make an album with Bishop.
Pryor Stroud: Backboned by a pitched-down vocal sample and a sprawling, nearly gelatinous bass groove, “Dammn Baby” is an unimpeachable work of pop artistry from one of pop’s preeminent artists. Its light-as-air melody seems like a revelation stolen from the ether; an act of inspiration-thievery that Janet’s brother was also verifiably guilty of. Like the best dance-pop tracks, it’s a song suited for both public and private consumption—an ecstasy of rhythm and sonic affirmation made for the dance floor but eminently capable of accompanying a night alone with a pair of headphones. [9/10]
Ruby Friedman came up with an intriguing concept for her new album Gem: “What would it sound like if a band from 200 years in the future wanted to do music from the 20th century? What would that sound like? So that’s what it sounds like: It’s an orchestra from the future, doing the past.” The 20th century sound she represents is roots rock, bluesy soul, which suits her deep, textured, rich voice to a tee. Friedman really is one hell of a frontwoman, with a completely unique and transfixing voice laden with passion. Meanwhile, her band storms through a song like “I’m Not Your Friend” with monster riffs and exciting guitar lines that totally make Gem a necessary addition to your music collection.
Pryor Stroud: Marrying the high-intensity sensuality of FKA Twigs with the ambient-soul minimalism of Movement, “Flatline” is an agonized indie-R&B pulse-racer that drops a miniature apocalypse between two lovers’ bodies. This is a high-stakes romantic drama; someone’s life is in jeopardy, a kind of sexually-fraught destruction looms. With economy and great expressiveness, Oyinda’s voice communicates this drama through vivid notes of desire and heart-rent desperation, climbing in the chorus to a reverberating zenith that seems to teeter closer to collapse than recovery. [8/10]