Music

Dirty Projectors - "Cool Your Heart (feat. D∆WN)" (Singles Going Steady)

D∆WN sounds as smooth and rich as she ever has, and David Longstreth brings his ever-sincere emotion to the table.

Adriane Pontecorvo: After last year’s beautiful, tormented single “Keep Your Name”, David Longstreth gives us a more uplifting cut from the Dirty Projectors album on its way later this month. Upbeat as it is, there’s nothing easy listening about “Cool Your Heart”, much to Longstreth’s credit. The production on this track shows painstaking attention to detail, each tropical beat and horn blast placed with care and consideration to balance out shining keys and the vocalists. D∆WN sounds as smooth and rich as she ever has, and Longstreth brings his ever-sincere emotion to the table. It’s that genius percussion break right in the middle that keeps things moving, though, completing a memorable frenzy. [9/10]

Andrew Paschal: This track is either totally brilliant or an overstuffed disaster. Or it may be a little of both. On his previous single "Up in Hudson" David Longstreth told us that he had been listening to Kanye West, and it shows with the ambition and/or hubris of "Cool Your Heart". Featuring tropical-glitch production and Dawn Richard's sumptuous vocals, at times their duet feels like two songs sewn loosely into one. All the scrambled electronics are a bit belabored, coming across less as innovation and more as a lack of better ideas. That is a shame, as there are some fine-tuned melodies here that deserve to be the primary focus. In places, though, this unexpected collaboration is the stuff of genius. [7/10]

Chris Ingalls: The complex instrumental machinery creates a wonderfully skittish vibe, and the vocals ground the song and make it a bit more accessible -- not that accessibility is a requirement for Dirty Projectors. DAWN is a great collaborator for these guys. What could have been a cold, soulless exercise in misanthropy turns into a lovely, quirky pop single. [8/10]

Mike Schiller: On one hand, "Cool Your Heart" is immediately accessible in a way that Dirty Projectors don't manage very often. On the other hand, vocalist David Longstreth, who wrote the song with Solange, is completely outdone by his guest. I don't know anything about D∆WN, but she owns the song in a way that makes you wish the other guy wasn't around. The sequence at the end where the beat picks up is fun, but it's too little too late to turn the song into anything but a jumping off point to looking into what else D∆WN has to offer. [5/10]

Steve Horowitz: From the sound of crickets to the sound of crickets, the song takes one from the chirping in one's head to what it feels like to be overwhelmed by one's neurons. The music purposely chills and shifts grooves to suggest one can never be totally in control -- especially in the presence of someone special. The music achieves its modest aims in a pleasant enough manner. It's cool all right, but it could use a little more heart. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.20

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image