Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: Titus Andronicus The Most Lamentable Tragedy

By Tom Breihan / July 21, 2015 - 12:56 pm

I really didn’t think that The Most Lamentable Tragedy was ever going to happen. More than two years ago, I talked to Patrick Stickles, and he laid out the plan: A full-length rock opera and accompanying movie, one that alludes to X-Men and The Matrix while telling a sprawling epic poem about manic depression. Stickle… More »

Premature Evaluation: Wilco Star Wars

By Chris DeVille / July 17, 2015 - 4:41 pm

You can tell a lot about a Wilco record based on the first few seconds. This is true of any album-oriented band, but especially so when you’re dealing with such an accomplished and wide-ranging catalog. The lovelorn twang of “I Must Be High,” the thunderous churn and down-home charm of “Misunderstood,” the studio-pop fantasia of… More »

Premature Evaluation: Tame Impala Currents

By Ryan Leas / July 9, 2015 - 11:46 am

In the months-long lead-up to next week’s release of Tame Impala’s feverishly anticipated third album, Currents, there’s been a consistent story. This is not the Tame Impala you once knew or expected. This is not the out-of-time psych-rock band from the western reaches of Australia. This is a band that has bent, or totally abandoned,… More »

Premature Evaluation: Miguel Wildheart

By Tom Breihan / June 23, 2015 - 10:28 am

Miguel Pimentel isn’t some shamanic teller of universal truths. He’s an entertainer. But he’s an entertainer who’s ridiculously good at pretending to be a shamanic teller of universal truths, and sometimes that’s better. Watching Miguel onstage a couple of years ago, I was absolutely dazzled. The man was always going to be famous; he’s too… More »

Premature Evaluation: Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment Surf

By Tom Breihan / June 1, 2015 - 5:12 pm

I worried about Surf. It made sense to worry. Acid Rap, the last mixtape from Chance The Rapper, just burst with promise, but it was so itchy and giddy and full of ideas that it was easy to imagine its creator flying off the rails and losing all focus. Based on the frequently muddled random… More »

Premature Evaluation: Sun Kil Moon Universal Themes

By Tom Breihan / June 1, 2015 - 11:17 am

There’s an old In Living Color sketch about Tracy Chapman, from the time that In Living Color was still on and still vital and Tracy Chapman was famous enough to be a skit-target. Chapman gets off the phone with a record-label guy, insisting that you can’t rush a Tracy Chapman song. Then she goes out… More »

Premature Evaluation: Florence + The Machine How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

By Tom Breihan / May 29, 2015 - 1:03 pm

Florence Welch does not half-step. I mean that literally: At Coachella, Welch leapt from the stage and broke her foot, and watching her, I had no idea that anything was wrong. She’d have to spend the next few months in a cast, performing while sitting down. But out there in the crowd, I don’t eve… More »

Premature Evaluation: A$AP Rocky At.Long.Last.A$AP

By Tom Breihan / May 26, 2015 - 5:20 pm

The last voice we hear on At.Long.Last.A$AP, the new A$AP Rocky album, doesn’t belong to Rocky. Instead, it’s a classic Dame Dash-style rant from Rocky’s aesthetic mentor A$AP Yams: “These tackass motherfuckers be all up in the pictures, wearin’ all types of red and green stripes, overaccessorizing out this motherfucker!” Yams wasn’t a rapper or… More »

Premature Evaluation: Jim O’Rourke Simple Songs

By Chris DeVille / May 12, 2015 - 12:40 pm

Jim O’Rourke has always lingered on the margins, but there was a moment when it felt like he was at the center of the musical universe. In the early years of this century, O’Rourke, a musician from Chicago who has dabbled in everything from post-rock to jazz to noise to experimental electronics to Fahey-esque folk,… More »

Premature Evaluation: Tyler, The Creator Cherry Bomb

By Tom Breihan / April 14, 2015 - 4:30 pm

Tyler, The Creator released Cherry Bomb, his fourth album if we’re counting Bastard as an album, in the closing hours of this year’s Coachella, a festival where he’s been a major presence for years. So maybe he wanted the world, or at least a significant chunk of his fanbase, to hear the album for the… More »

Premature Evaluation: Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell

By Chris DeVille / March 23, 2015 - 9:04 am

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 - 10:13 am

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 - 9:05 am

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 - 2:49 pm

“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… More »

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

By Tom Breihan / February 13, 2015 - 4:12 pm

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 - 5:14 pm

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 - 11:08 pm

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 - 9:50 am

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 - 11:47 am

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 - 1:51 pm

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 that she… More »

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