Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory
The songs on Big Fish Theory are excellent, a further exploration of the same massive, almost industrial sounds that welled up in the production on Staples's acclaimed 2015 double album, Summertime '06, and even more sharply in his 2016 EP, Prima Donna, which also explored the contradictions of budding fame. On Big Fish Theory, Staples plays with ideas of conflicting expectations, mixing, for instance, "holy water with the Voss." Lead single "BagBak" declares, "Tell the president to suck a dick because we on now," over a bruisingly huge electronic bass.
—Kyle Kramer, There Is No Explaining Vince Staples
DJ Khaled: Grateful
Very much occupying Khaled's "more-is-more" lane (the phrases "WE THE BEST MUSIC" and "DJ KHAAAAALED" surely appear at least 50 times each), Grateful is best described as "feel good summer music." It includes the Beyoncé and Jay-Z brag-fest "Shining," as well as summery jaunt "I'm the One," and the more recently released "Wild Thoughts," fronted by Rihanna. Its enormous features roster is as follows *inhales deeply through nostrils*: Sizzla, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bryson Tiller, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Quavo (and indeed the other two Migos, Offset and Takeoff, as well), Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, Big Sean, Nas, Betty Wright, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Calvin Harris, Jeremih, Future, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Raekwon, Fat Joe, Kodak Black, Yo Gotti, 21 Savage, T.I., Young Thug, 2 Chainz, Belly, Mavado, and of course, most importantly, Baby Asahd. So, in sum, it's pretty much a collection of all your faves, brought together by the power and will of the Baby Jesus of our time, ASAHD. So, thank you Asahd, I guess.
—Lauren O'Neill, You Can Now Bask in the Triumphant Rays of DJ Khaled's 'Grateful'
Rozwell Kid: Precious Art
On another tour supporting The Menzingers, which saw Rozwell Kid performing directly before Jeff Rosenstock, Rozwell Kid hung a giant, neon background banner on stage. It didn't display their own band name or logo, though, but instead read: JEFF'S UP NEXT above a QR code that, if scanned, brought you to Rosenstock's page on UltimateGuitar.com.
Still, under all these sophomoric attempts at masking their talents, Rozwell Kid makes perfectly constructed rock jams that are catchy as all hell, and Precious Art is now their most cohesive body of work to showcase them. The album creates a mood that makes you want to open up emotionally, but you know better than to do so since someone might run up from behind and pants you while pointing and giving you the Nelson Muntz "Haw haw!"
American democracy is crumbling, England is in turmoil, nuclear war could break out at any moment, everything worth loving is being wrestled onto the pyre, and, to compound the misery, we're being bombarded with simplistic and shallow solutions: X Movie/Album/TV Show/Exhibition Is What We Need Right Now, reads the headline on, by my count, every single arts-related feature from London to Los Angeles. Which is not true.
Except for Algiers. Algiers might be what we need right now.
—Alex Robert Ross, Algiers Returns With New Single, New Video, New Album, Same Urgency
OK Computer has become immortal via its influence on many rock bands afterward and the perpetual fascination with tech-dystopias amongst nerds. It has an enduring cult, something that Hail to the Thief doesn't really have, save for a few enlightened stragglers. OK Computer is buttoned-up, well-groomed, generally presentable. Thief is snaggle-toothed, with too much hair growing in weird places. OK Computer is prepared to be adored and has been for twenty years. This doesn't make it bad, but it does make it (*whispers*) kind of boring to root for. Let's remedy that. If there is one dystopic Radiohead album to listen to right now, it should be Hail to the Thief. Though it just as vividly illustrates despair, it's also—bizarrely—an incredibly fun and therapeutic rock album, making it Radiohead's definitive work over OK Computer.
Prince: Purple Rain (Reissue)
All this action predated the summer 1984 launch of the Prince legend as we know it: the two-pronged release of the seriously gorgeous Purple Rain LP and the surprisingly enjoyable Purple Rain flick. For the next decade Prince would be the pop demigod the world mourns today, a prolific, hard-touring, reclusive cash machine who spent every spare minute laying down tracks in his Paisley Park compound—when he wasn't dreaming up movie concepts or bringing the gift of orgasm to bevies of darling Nikkis in his erotic city. The eros is fantasy, of course—his private life was well-guarded. But something not just soulful in his lithe falsetto, gruff baritone, and warm midrange made the fantasy irresistible. Lubricious, solicitous, insinuating, polymorphous, sometimes ungendered, his singing was confident without cock-rock aggression—friendly, good-humored, there for you.
—Robert Christgau, 1999 to Infinity
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