Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: M.I.A. Matangi

By Tom Breihan / November 4, 2013 - 1:16 pm

Talking to Pitchfork last month, M.I.A. called “Paper Planes” “an accident”: “It wasn’t a song we made for the masses. It took two years to get popular, and there were many fights about censoring the gunshot sounds.” And she’s right; the track took a weird and circuitous route to pop ubiquity; it famously had to… More »

Premature Evaluation: Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP 2

By Tom Breihan / November 1, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Pity the noise music underground. Think of it: An entire global scene taking root and flowering over the course of decades, finding strongholds in unlikely urban centers, developing its own crusty-warehouse touring circuit. And now it’s an entire network of bands, labels, record stores, venues, festivals — all dedicated to the pursuit of creating the… More »

Premature Evaluation: Arcade Fire Reflektor

By Tom Breihan / October 25, 2013 - 1:33 pm

Arcade Fire have spent the better part of a decade growing into their own majesty. Funeral, for all its estimable sweep, existed very much in the context of early-’00s indie, with all the scraggly yelping and old-timey pianos that were so in vogue in that Modest Mouse/Bright Eyes era. The ambition and enthusiasm were very… More »

Premature Evaluation: Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt

By Ryan Leas / October 8, 2013 - 11:37 am

Titles say a lot in Pearl Jam’s discography. Not in the sense that they do with any artist — you know, cluing you into what they’re writing about — but in the sense that the structure of their titles hints at what version of Pearl Jam you’re about to get. For the longest time, they… More »

Premature Evaluation: The Dismemberment Plan Uncanney Valley

By Chris DeVille / October 7, 2013 - 4:32 pm

Until now, the Dismemberment Plan’s discography has been a near-perfect chronicle of the arc from smartass youthful exuberance to quarter-life crisis to grown-up stability, culminating in the well-adjusted grace of 2001’s Change. And what follows such strides into adulthood but marriage, kids, day jobs, and a retreat from the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle (after some… More »

Premature Evaluation: Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience – 2 Of 2

By Tom Breihan / September 25, 2013 - 2:42 pm

When Justin Timberlake released “Take Back The Night,” the first single from the second volume of his The 20/20 Experience album, there was some confusion on the internet: How in the hell did Timberlake think it was OK to give his slick disco-revival single the same name as an anti-rape institution that’s been around for… More »

Premature Evaluation: Drake Nothing Was The Same

By Tom Breihan / September 17, 2013 - 1:56 pm

Drake changed rap. He reshaped the landscape and forever altered the things that we expect from big rap stars. Before Drake, sensitive souls like Andre 3000 and Kanye West made a point of showing what rap stardom could look like if you dropped all the tough-guy stuff, but none of them came across quite so… More »

Premature Evaluation: MGMT MGMT

By Chris DeVille / September 11, 2013 - 4:10 pm

MGMT could have ruled the world. There was a time when Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser had a vise grip on pop culture, when smash singles “Kids” and “Electric Feel” and “Time To Pretend” had reached such a saturation point that all the world’s radio playlists, TV ads, and music festival playbills seemed to have… More »

Premature Evaluation: Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks

By Tom Breihan / August 27, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Looking back now on Nine Inch Nails’ ’90s heyday it’s apparent that we didn’t know what we had. Back then, the knock on Reznor was that he was taking the sputtering, clanking industrial music of Chicago’s Wax Trax scene and dumbing it down, making it fit for pop consumption. And even those of us who… More »

Premature Evaluation: Earl Sweatshirt Doris

By Tom Breihan / August 19, 2013 - 12:24 pm

I’d been waiting for this moment for literally years: Earl Sweatshirt’s triumphant return to the stage after being shut away in a Samoan reform school during his Odd Future crew’s entire rise to fame and infamy. But there was nothing triumphant about the Earl I saw at the Fader Fort during this past March’s SXSW. More »

Premature Evaluation: Carcass Surgical Steel

By Michael Nelson / August 2, 2013 - 6:28 pm

The opening song on Surgical Steel — the first album of new music in 17 years from English death metal band Carcass — is an intro track called “1985.” It’s not an especially oblique reference: 1985 was the year Carcass (or a nascent version thereof) was formed, in Liverpool, by guitarist Bill Steer and drummer… More »

Premature Evaluation: Jay-Z Magna Carta Holy Grail

By Claire Lobenfeld / July 5, 2013 - 10:00 am

Jay-Z has compared himself to a lot of people in his decades-long career: Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson on “Niggas In Paris,” before that “Biggie in his prime” on the disturbingly prescient “The City Is Mine.” But on Magna Carta Holy Grail, he knights himself the Jean-Michel Basquiat of hip-hop and oddly also self-anoint… More »

Premature Evaluation: Kanye West: Yeezus

By Tom Breihan / June 17, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Just over a minute into Yeezus, Kayne West is riding the malfunctioning-star-destroyer glitch-screams of “On Sight” when he poses a rhetorical question: “How much do I not give a fuck? Let me show you right now, ‘fore you give it up.” He repeats the question, as the screaming robots underneath him disappear into empty black… More »

Premature Evaluation: Deafheaven Sunbather

By Michael Nelson / May 29, 2013 - 1:46 pm

Any time a metal-curious friend asks me to explain the distinctions separating different metal subgenres — most often re: death metal vs. black metal — I tell them to start by focusing on the vocals. This is by no means the only fundamental difference, and it’s by no means an absolute, but it’s a pretty… More »

Premature Evaluation: Queens Of The Stone Age …Like Clockwork

By Michael Nelson / May 20, 2013 - 5:09 pm

Last June, we published a feature called the Top 20 Albums We’ve Been Waiting For Forever, counting down a bunch of our favorite artists from whom a new full-length was: (A) long overdue; and (B) not totally unrealistic. Coming in at No. 19 on that list was Queens Of The Stone Age. As we wrote… More »

Premature Evaluation: Daft Punk Random Access Memories

By Tom Breihan / May 15, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Daft Punk’s new album Random Access Memories is a lot of things: A masterful years-in-the-making publicity campaign set to music, a showcase of hellaciously expensive decades-old studio craftsmanship, a stunt-casted absurdist music event on the level of the Coachella Tupac hologram, a fascinating example of what happens when pop-star robots go to disco fantasy camp,… More »

Premature Evaluation: The National Trouble Will Find Me

By Tom Breihan / May 10, 2013 - 2:45 pm

At this point, six albums in, the National are practically a genre unto themselves. On Alligator, the first album that many of us noticed, they had a dark and driving intensity that didn’t seem too far removed from, say, Interpol. As little as two albums ago, they seemed to share a lot of musical idea… More »

Premature Evaluation: Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires Of The City

By Tom Breihan / May 8, 2013 - 3:03 pm

The title of Modern Vampires Of The City, the third album from Vampire Weekend, seems like it riffs on the band’s name and on its members’ status as sharp and witty New York men-about-town, guys who play punny word-games on their Twitter accounts and make cameo appearances on Girls and maintain none-too-serious Soundcloud side projects. More »

Premature Evaluation: Deerhunter Monomania

By Michael Nelson / April 24, 2013 - 10:19 am

Since the release of their triumphant sophomore album, 2007’s Cryptograms, Atlanta’s Deerhunter have produced a pretty vast catalog that’s been both unpredictable and consistently great to an almost shocking degree. Expand the scope of that catalog to include the three LPs from Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s solo-ish side project Atlas Sound, and you’re looking at… More »

Premature Evaluation: Phoenix Bankrupt!

By Michael Nelson / April 15, 2013 - 10:11 am

In his beautiful eulogy for My Chemical Romance, Grantland’s Andy Greenwald made much of that band’s outsize ambition, and lamented the general dissolution of such ambition among other rock bands of recent vintage. “My Chemical Romance always aimed for the top, but the top no longer exists; all that remains is a vast, niche-y middle,”… More »

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