Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

By Chris DeVille / March 23, 2015
You can't go back. Sufjan Stevens wrestles with that fact throughout Carrie & Lowell, his first proper full-length album since 2010's primal digital freakout The Age Of Adz. Stevens' mother -- Carrie, from the album title -- died in December 2012 after a troubled life that found her battling substance abuse and schizophrenia and leaving… More »

Premature Evaluation: Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly

By Tom Breihan / March 17, 2015
To talk about To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar's new album, we need to talk about Tupac Amaru Shakur. Tupac is the ghost that haunts To Pimp A Butterfly, and among so many other things, the LP functions as a piece of Pac hero-worship. Kendrick surprise-released the album a week early so that it would… More »

Premature Evaluation: Modest Mouse Strangers To Ourselves

By Chris DeVille / March 16, 2015
It feels like Modest Mouse have been away forever, so it's easy to forget that their decline into mediocrity is only one or two albums deep. (If you think The Moon & Antarctica is less than a masterpiece, you're reading the wrong review.) Whether they fell off one or two albums ago depends on how… More »

Premature Evaluation: Purity Ring Another Eternity

By Chris DeVille / February 26, 2015
"I thought it was Taylor Swift." I was playing "Push Pull," the gorgeously shimmering lead single from Purity Ring's Another Eternity, for a friend whose musical tastes don't extend far beyond the radio dial. The above quote was his reaction. My friend's point of reference is limited, but it's not that crazy that Mega… More »

Premature Evaluation: Drake If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

By Tom Breihan / February 13, 2015
Drake is calling If You're Reading This It's Too Late a "mixtape," even though he's selling it for money and even though its stream got yanked from Livemixtapes in a matter of hours. Drake is no dummy. If he's really thinking of IYRTITL as a mixtape, he knows better than to give it away for… More »

Premature Evaluation: Björk Vulnicura

By Tom Breihan / January 21, 2015
When a brilliant artist drops a surprise album out of nowhere, like gold from the sky, it's a cause for celebration: Radiohead ripping through music-business paradigms, Beyoncé asserting giddy dominance, D'Angelo shattering a decades-long silence. And Björk's new Vulnicura, bestowed as a gift to the world yesterday after a months-early leak made its release that… More »

Premature Evaluation: Sleater-Kinney No Cities To Love

By Tom Breihan / January 11, 2015
Before we even get into how good the new Sleater-Kinney album No Cities To Love is -- and it is very good -- we should take a moment for what a miracle it is that the album exists in the first place. Sleater-Kinney's self-titled debut turns 20 this year, and they are, without question, the… More »

Premature Evaluation: Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

By Chris DeVille / January 6, 2015
Sometimes when I listen to Animal Collective I feel like I'm peering through a kaleidoscope into heaven, and other times I'm pretty sure I'm vomiting through a fault line into hell. Setting aside the question of whether that disconnect is intentional, it at least seems unusual. Like every band hailed as game-changing innovators, Animal Collective… More »

Premature Evaluation: D’Angelo And The Vanguard Black Messiah

By Phil Freeman / December 15, 2014
Every once in awhile, an artist somewhere on the R&B/soul/black music spectrum releases an album that's simultaneously an attempt to come to grips with America, and to tell America to go fuck itself. Among the totemic examples are Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, Sly And The Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On, Funkadelic's America EatsMore »

Premature Evaluation: Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint

By Tom Breihan / December 12, 2014
For months now, for the whole leadup to the release of The Pinkprint, the question surrounding the album has been this: Pop Nicki or Mixtape Nicki? Earlier in the year, Nicki absolutely cut loose on a few songs -- "Chi-Raq," "Yasss Bish!!," the "Boss Ass Bitch" remix -- as if to remind everyone… More »

Premature Evaluation: The Smashing Pumpkins Monuments To An Elegy

By Michael Nelson / December 2, 2014
The Smashing Pumpkins defy easy narratives, but it seems safe to say the band's "classic era" ended as soon as its "classic lineup" fractured. The Pumpkins' immortal first three albums -- 1991's Gish, '93's Siamese Dream, and '95's Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness -- were at least superficially created by the quartet of Billy… More »

Premature Evaluation: TV On The Radio Seeds

By Tom Breihan / November 13, 2014
2014 has been an interesting year for the creative forces behind the early-'00s New York rock renaissance. Julian Casablancas went into messily experimental prog-pop overdrive on Tyranny, while Karen O turned toward lo-fi insularity on Crush Songs. One album had too many ideas; the other had not enough. Interpol, meanwhile, continued to do Interpol thing… More »

Premature Evaluation: Foo Fighters Sonic Highways

By Tom Breihan / November 10, 2014
There's a moment on the third episode of Sonic Highways, Dave Grohl's new HBO show, where Grohl warns his bandmates not to let their environment affect them too much. They're in Nashville, recording the third song of the Sonic Highways album at Grohl's country-music buddy Zac Brown's studio. Grohl is worried that the song i… More »

Premature Evaluation: Taylor Swift 1989

By Tom Breihan / October 27, 2014
"Respect motherfucking craft when you hear it." Writing for Brooklyn's L Magazine six years ago, that was how I ended my review of Taylor Swift's triumphant sophomore album Fearless. (The review isn't online anymore, but the Village Voice was nice enough to reprint some highlights.) Back when I wrote that, Swift was ostensibly making… More »

Premature Evaluation: Flying Lotus You’re Dead!

By Patric Fallon / October 3, 2014
Full disclosure: I am not exactly well-versed in the deep, labyrinthine history of jazz music. Sure, I know my Mingus from my Monk, my Coltrane from my Coleman, but I can't speak on the lineage of Blue Note Records or tell you which tiny, smoke-filled New York clubs were "the place to be" for jazz… More »

Premature Evaluation: Weezer Everything Will Be Alright In The End

By Michael Nelson / September 30, 2014
The first single from Weezer's new album, Everything Will Be Alright In The End, opens with an apology. That song, of course, is "Back To The Shack," and that apology is contrite: "Sorry guys, I didn't realize that I needed you so much/ I thought I'd get a new audience, I forgot that disco… More »

Premature Evaluation: Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

By Chris DeVille / September 26, 2014
Tomorrow's Modern Boxes deserves to be taken on its own terms -- and on those terms, it's a marvelous piece of work. This is a Thom Yorke album, though, so it's impossible not to experience the music in the context of his long, legendary career. Furthermore, the album arrives during somewhat of a cold… More »

Premature Evaluation: Aphex Twin SYRO

By Tom Breihan / September 18, 2014
Here's how fucking weird 2014 is: Aphex Twin returned from a decade-long exile with a new album, and the thing sounds comforting. If you're old enough, you probably remember hearing a new Aphex track for the first time and having the old "Wh-wh-what the fuck is happening here?!?" reaction. He made music that sounded impossible,… More »

Premature Evaluation: Alt-J This Is All Yours

By Chris DeVille / September 16, 2014
With An Awesome Wave, their Mercury Prize-winning 2012 debut album, Alt-J went from 0 to 100 real quick, transforming from anonymous schlubs into world-famous rock stars. They did so by forging a strikingly unique brand of prog-rock, approachable in its familiarity yet unapologetic in its weirdness. The band was formed at the University of… More »

Premature Evaluation: U2 Songs Of Innocence

By Tom Breihan / September 11, 2014
On Tuesday afternoon, you could do a Twitter search for the phrase "who is U2" and come away with some serious food for thought. Not everyone, it turned out, was watching Apple's big unveiling of its iPhone 6. Not everyone saw the news reports that the world's biggest band had beamed a brand-new album into… More »

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