Stream of the Crop: 9 New Albums for Heavy Rotation 4/1
New albums from Wire, Nelly Furtado, and Bob Dylan top this week's list.
Their 15th studio album, Silver/Lead, is another timely record from a band with an unwavering eye for the present. The angst is still there, but it follows a line drawn by their last three records: 2013's Change Becomes Us, 2015's Wire, and 2016's Nocturnal Koreans. The paranoia doesn't come through frantic ticks; instead it bubbles up in a distorted subterfuge, underpinning Newman's occasionally disturbing deadpan vocal delivery. It's deceptive, too, built around pop hooks, drawing the listener in for long enough to confound them. Here we are, Newman sings on "Short Elevated Period," "in a pivotal moment, in an uncertain future." It would have made sense 40 years ago, too; but it catches on right now.
Alex Robert Ross, Stream Wire's Timely New Album, 'Silver/Lead'
Orchestra Baobab Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
Specialist in All Styles and Made in Dakar, the 2001 and 2008 albums that reunited this world-class band, climaxed a career that began with a 15-year run in 1970, went into abeyance rather than "modernize," and then surged back. But because guitarist-arranger Barthelemy Attisso would rather be a lawyer in Togo than a star in Senegal, this long-delayed sequel was a challenge. Attisso's young Beninois replacement is deft enough without approaching his calm mastery or getting as much room, overshadowed as he is by a well-integrated kora add-on who, while hardly the usual mystagogue, sometimes renders the ambience perilously world-musicky even so. But though singer Ndiouga Dieng is indeed gone, Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis remain frontmen to reckon with as their voices roughen, and where Baobab's other 21st-century albums reconstituted their greatest hits, here they generate new titles worthy of their legend. For orientation, start in the middle with "Woulinewa" and the only remake, the Dieng-identified "Sey," which a cameo from Baobab alum Thione Seck takes home. Then start again from the beginning.
Robert Christgau, Expert Witness
Nelly Furtado The Ride
Furtado's readying the release of her sixth record The Ride, which is out at the end of March, her first since The Indestructible Spirit from 2012. It is a real departure from her previous records, both creatively and metaphorically; the album art for The Ride is a instant giveaway to that. All of Furtado's prior albums from her debut Whoa, Nelly to the fantastic pop smash Loose to her Spanish language record Mi Plan bear similar typography; looping, swirled letters that are more—as she would be happy to call it herself—hippy-like. On The Ride's album cover we're presented with a more stoic looking Furtado wearing overalls and holding yellow flowers with lettering reflective of that: simple lines (NF denoting the singer's name) and typewriter style for the album's title.
Sarah Macdonald, Nelly Furtado Finally Tends to The Quiet Needs of Her Soul
Bob Dylan Triplicate
Bob Dylan has spent the last few years copying out Frank Sinatra's songbook in his own intricate handwriting. The two albums he's released since 2012's lyrically epic Tempest— Shadows in the Night and Fallen Angels—involved covers, after a fashion. But Dylan himself would contend with that categorization. "I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way," he told Rolling Stone around the release of Shadows in the Night in early 2015. "They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day. This reanimation has been breathtaking. His performance of "The Night They Called It a Day" on one of Letterman's last Late Night shows was a haunting, dimly-lit four minutes that barely concealed its grace beneath Dylan's suspicious glances to the camera. But there's a wealth of country literature to be found beyond that performance, and you don't have to dig for long. Alive though it may be, there's a sense in which it's funeral music for the American 20th century; they're tracks that take on a disturbing poignancy now that the past is being desecrated and sold off for parts.
Alex Robert Ross, Bob Dylan Covers Sinatra Again, Announces Triple-Album, Is Wonderful
Julia Holter In The Same Room
Freddie Gibbs You Only Live 2wice
Mastodon Emperor of Sand
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah Ruler Rebel
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