Paul Duffus: Only two original members left, but the fire remains undimmed. “Cast the First Stone” is relatively mid-tempo for these heroic warlocks. Over the years they have been up, they have been down, but they have never backed off. And so it continues. This compares favourably with their past. [8/10]
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Adrien Begrand: Well, if there’s one artist with the clout and the cash to try to make a video on par with a David Lean film, it’s Taylor Swift. Instead, sadly, it amounts to nothing more than a preening music video version of Out of Africa. Which, for the kids out there, was arguably the most boring movie to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. But who am I to say how good this is? My eight year-old niece watched this clip five times in a row, agog at the love triangle and Tay-Tay’s black wig. [5/10]
So we pronounce it “nervous lovers” then, right?
This latest addition to search-optimized indie band names (right up there with CHVRCHES and Alvvays) San Francisco band NRVS LVRS provide an aptly contemporary twist on indie pop. At its root is the same new romantic-derived sounds Stars have been excelling at for the past 15 years, but with smart additions of chillwave, electropop, and dreampop. The tactic works especially well on their debut album, which can be streamed in its entirety below in advance of its 8 September release date.
Brian Duricy: Playful tribute to Drake’s oft-cited favorite slang of 2015 and the song’s producer? Check. Swirling, whining synths that pair well with Makonnen’s own unpolished swagger? Check. Pulling an early 2010s slip-hop forgetfulness and then deciding to shout himself out instead? Check. Rap can’t get more fun than ILoveMakonnen. [8/10]
Chicago’s Walsher Clemons is a jam band that know not just how to lock into a strong instrumental groove, but one that knows how to create a groove that actually moves. Described as a combination of Michael Jackson and Phish (with a little Steely Dan tossed in as well) this is sunny, Bonnaroo-friendly music that demands its listeners dance to their irresistible funk beats.