Maria Schurr: As stellar of a song as this is, it also sounds like the first time that Harvey is repeating herself. It’s like a Let England Shake song with a change in location, married to the warped blues tone that Harvey’s so good at. Then again, Let England Shake was one of this century’s most powerful artistic achievements; even a retooling of it bodes well for the year in music and Harvey’s upcoming The Hope Six Demolition Project in particular. At the same time, it’s gritty enough to be something that will cause those who didn’t like Let England Shake to rave. Ultimately pretty damned satisfying. [8/10]
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Acid folk musician Tom Wilson has created a number of albums under his Lee Harvey Osmond moniker and the latest, Beautiful Scars, is set for a March 25th US release, following its release in Canada last year. Beautiful Scars has already won numerous accolades and it’s just been announced that Wilson is up for a Juno award in the Contemporary Roots Album of the Year category. The album should find a lot of American success based on the “Oh the Gods - Where Our Hearts Remain”, which features dark, haunting grooves blended with low, raspy, whispery vocals that recall Alabama 3 at their very best. It’s a soulful, memorable song that “keeps burning in your head”.
Timothy Gabriele: One thing I thoroughly enjoy about our current era is the bafflement of old industry types scrambling to figure out why the SoundCloud singles don’t wind up on the album, consistently throwing all their weight behind the notion that only the LP legitimizes the single, unable to face the new reality of streaming music. It should shock no one that “Bitch Better Have My Money”, the best thing Rihanna dropped in 2015, didn’t make its way to Anti. It’s practically the definition of a one-off. My wife and I are convinced it was written on a total misogynistic tip (Kanye’s a co-writer on the track, as is Travis Scott), but Rihanna just claimed it as her own. It’s like Rihanna’s own version of Tori Amos’ Strange Little Girls. The video would seem to continue the simple gender swap, exchanging horror film tropes of the male serial killer stalking unwitting females, but much of the video is spent tormenting and humiliating Mads Mikkelsen’s wife. It’s unclear if there is a feminist core to this, but unlike “American Oxygen”, which played safe by making its politics vague and opaque, “Bitch Better Have My Money” is murky and imperfect, nasty and aggressive, and a banger to boot. [8/10]
John Garratt: It’s nice when Massive Attack does more than just vamp for Tricky. Take away the vocals and you still have yourself an intoxicating trip-hop brew—in waltz time at that! Having said all that, the narrative arc of the video is lost on me (Drunk? Tired? Diseased? What?) and the spontaneous fits of dancing wander too close to Thriller and/or zombie fascination. Someone check in with that singing fetus from “Teardrop” for availability. [7/10]
Respected indie popster Anton Barbeau is back with a new album, Magic Act, releasing Mar 4th on Mystery Lawn Music. Some of these new tunes were originally penned for Barbeau’s UK band Three Minute Tease, but he ended up using them on this release. Barbeau is hyper focused on classic pop songwriting, developing hooks by the truckload and working with the finest pop musicians to translate his songs into memorable nuggets. Magic Act kicks off with “High Noon”—the song we’re premiering today—and true to Barbeau’s delightfully eccentric nature, it poses the question, “Did the CIA really kill the Virgin Mary by sending her on a suicide mission to the moon?” This kind of quirky approach has deservedly earned Barbeau legions of fans worldwide.