Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: Arcade Fire Reflektor

By Tom Breihan / October 25, 2013
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
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
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
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… More »

Premature Evaluation: Drake Nothing Was The Same

By Tom Breihan / September 17, 2013
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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… More »

Premature Evaluation: Queens Of The Stone Age …Like Clockwork

By Michael Nelson / May 20, 2013
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… More »

Premature Evaluation: Daft Punk Random Access Memories

By Tom Breihan / May 15, 2013
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
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
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… More »

Premature Evaluation: Deerhunter Monomania

By Michael Nelson / April 24, 2013
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
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… More »

Premature Evaluation: The Knife Shaking The Habitual

By Tom Breihan / April 4, 2013
On "Raging Lung," a little more than halfway through the Knife's gargantuan new album Shaking The Habitual, a few familiar words show up: "What a difference, what a difference a little difference would make." Those words are familiar because Guy Picciotto groaned them on Fugazi's "Blueprint," a track from Repeater, my favorite album ever. With… More »

Premature Evaluation: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito

By Tom Breihan / April 3, 2013
The first time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played Baltimore, they played first on a four-band Ottobar bill, one headlined by skronk-punk out-of-towners Milemarker and Arab On Radar. The only locals on the bill were League of Death, the mutant hardcore band whose two-man core went onto become the two-man core of Double Dagger. A year… More »

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