This is really just an excuse to play a track from Estelle’s sophomore album, Shine, one of the year’s best pop soul records. Shine is as infectious as my worn through copy of Lauren Hill’s debut, before she picked up a guitar and decided to join the ranks of the tortured and sermonizing. It’s not the ideal track to pick (for that see the Cee-Lo collab “Pretty Please”), especially since Kanye’s flow consistently deflates his musical surroundings and his “moon/June” rhymes are fairly low hanging fruit. Actually that’s an overstatement, Kanye’s rhymes are, more often than not, of the “moon/moon” variety. As a video, it lacks coherent art direction and narrative, especially in the split-screen montages of various typical American boys, all of whom look like they’re doing ads for the Gap’s new edgy urban Ivy-leaguer line. Sure, black and white is always carries a certain entry-level morsel of cool cache, but for this song it’s cold and comparatively drab. The only part that captures some of this song’s buoyant Summer energy comes from the disconnected dance play between Estelle and her shadow, which provides sexy liquid movement in a video with static pictures of men backdropped with the kind of white void you’d expect from a near death experience. She’s too vibrant to be framed by such McArty deserted space that could just as easily sell a parka, a cheeseburger or Windsong perfume. And, if you can get John Legend in the video, why not have him pick up Kanye’s half of the duet. Just saying.
As The Final Year quietly argues, if the United States' electorate fails to elevate itself to a higher level of political vernacular than coarse tweets and reality TV-style colloquies, then 2016 may be the best year the US will have had for a long time to come.
New single from dark duo VOWWS conjures classic James Bond scores while avoiding all the stuff we've all heard before.
Soulful balladeer Reigen reminds us that sometimes not knowing is a real place to start understanding.
There's a ghostly suggestion of Philip Roth's writing voice in Portnoy's Complaint in this novel; a relatively calm voice, this time in the third person, documenting the madness.
The Hackensaw Boys reboot Blaze Foley's Reagan-era "Oval Room" in light of the current political climate with scorching results.
Eric Benoit fuses elements of dance, folk, and alternative styles in the experimental "Dragonflies", wherein the artist delves into some uncomfortable realities.
An avant-garde classic or a sneering joke? Third Reich 'n Roll may be over 40 years old, but it still sounds like it's been beamed down from the future.
Pulp functions less as a pulpy mystery or gangster tale than as a spoof of same, albeit a spoof that retains a noirish sense of fate and power.