Jordan Blum: I’d be happy about this almost by default just because it marks the return of Gorillaz. There’s a nostalgic sense of joy that comes with seeing these mascots back in action. Luckily, the video and music is actually really solid. In fact, the opening gives the band more personality than I’ve ever seen before, and the colorful and crude haunted house vibe is a perfect continuation of their beloved vibe. As for the track itself, I didn’t expect the reggae forefront, but it fits well with the eerie backing track. After all, Gorillaz has always been about merging styles and never really sticking to any set sound, so this works. Of course, when Albarn adds his unmistakable essence, it’s classic Gorillaz. If the whole new record combines newness with trademarks this well, it’ll be great. [9/10]
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Chris Ingalls: Rodney Crowell has been one of country music’s most revered, mature voices. While so much contemporary country consists of clowning around pickup trucks, Crowell has spent decades establishing himself as a superior songwriter, albeit one who gets more props from critics and his fellow songwriters. Backed primarily by sparse acoustic guitar, “Nashville 1972” is a lovely country/folk number that recalls Crowell’s salad days, full of lyrical detail and delicate fingerpicking. It’s a wonderful tribute to a bygone era that Crowell still remembers vividly. If the rest of Crowell’s upcoming album is this good, we could have a contender for album of the year. It’s that good. [9/10]
Mike Schiller: Somehow, Greg Dulli can recruit Har Mar Superstar for his video, infuse his song with a full horn section and finish it with a straight-up dance beat and extended falsetto notes, and it still sounds like he wrote the song at midnight by candlelight. That’s to his credit, of course—Dulli’s ability to find darkness in unexpected places is one of his great strengths. “Demon in Profile” is both classic and brand new for Afghan Whigs, as its big instrumentation and soaring vocal lines signal a new direction for the band even as it reaffirms their ability to find comfort underground. [8/10]
Tel-Aviv duo Lola Marsh occupy a space in between indie pop, indie folk, and electropop with their beautifully melodic, breezy songs. It’s a thoroughly modern and engaging approach to pop music that highlights the superb songwriting chops of Gil Landau and the enigmatic vocals of Yael Shoshana Cohen. Lola Marsh’s tunes have stormed the Hype Machine charts, and their future looks bright with their debut album coming sometime this spring or summer.
Mike Schiller: Subtlety is an underused skill in hip-hop, but Porter Ray has it down on “Past Life”. Over beautiful, hazy production, we get high-speed raps about everything but this moment. We hear about memories, we hear about dreams, we hear reminiscing about the past and looking toward the future. If it feels a little ethereal, that’s probably its intent. [7/10]
// Notes from the Road
"Red Baraat's annual Festival of Colors show rocked a snow laden Hartford on a Saturday evening.READ the article