The first words Future says on Honest are a half-conscious mutter, but that doesn’t make them any less heartfelt: “Be bold. Smell me?” As if to show and prove on those four words, the music underneath him is not what you might expect from the intro track to the new Future album. It’s a warm, reverby, full-bodied guitar loop, and the first time I heard it, I assumed it was a Fleetwood Mac sample or something — mostly, I suppose, because it reminded me of the circular grace of the Fleetwood Mac sample on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Wind Blow.” But no, Future’s sample comes from Amadou And Mariam, the blind Malian guitar virtuosos. And when he’s rapping on it — feverishly, frantically — Future sounds like he’s declaring intentions of epicness. He’s earned the right. Future has spent the past few years dragging the entire rap mainstream into his zonked-out headspace, to the point where his voice, at its most strained, is about the most exciting sound you can possibly hear in a nightclub right now. (If you haven’t seen a big crowd lose its mind to “Sh!t” or “Bugatti,” I would argue that you are not experiencing rap music in the right ways. Adjust.) Honest is Future’s first album since becoming a straight-up star, a known quantity, which means that it can’t conjure the same weird magic as its predecessor, 2012′s incredible Pluto. Because of the baroque intricacies of the present-day rap industry, established rap stars have more trouble getting their albums released than unproven upstarts do, and we’ve already experienced many of the songs on Honest over the past year or so, so the new album ends up feeling half like a new album and half like a greatest-hits collection that only covers the past year or so. And yet the Future of Honest still does what he advises you to do on the intro. He is bold.
Lily Allen nabbed the award for Best Album Title Of 2014 when she announced her new record would be called Sheezus, and now, the album’s title track has been released. The song sounds nothing like anything on Yeezus, sadly (though not exactly shockingly). On the chorus, Allen runs down a list of pop’s biggest women — Rihanna, Beyonce, Lorde, Lady Gaga — and the ways in which they vie for chart supremacy. Listen.
As promised, Everclear and Liz Phair have recorded a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” for the soundtrack to a new documentary called Farmland. They played the song together at the film’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere last week, and video of the performance is watchable below.
After contributing to the late-2013 surprise that was BEYONCÉ, the producer Jordy Asher, better known as BOOTS, has been dropping tracks without any warning. The most recent of these is “A Day In The Life Of Jordan Asher,” which features him softly rapping over one of the atmospheric productions that are his signature. Here he steadily raps over clacking percussion and vocal samples so stretched-out they barely sound human. Between this, “Dust,” “Howl,” and the other tracks he’s been dropping, BOOTS has nearly an album’s worth of good tracks out this year, and it’s just barely spring. Listen and download it below.
Iggy Azalea recently dropped her album The New Classic and stopped by Good Morning America today to perform her tongue-in-cheek collaboration with Charli XCX. The performance matched the Clueless vibe that was in the music video and carried the style of their appearances on Late Night and at the MTVu Woodie Awards. Watch the morning show performance below.
Courtney Love’s music is about as erratic as her personal life/online persona, but at her best, she’s a truly kickass songwriter and singer. As she mentioned earlier this month, she’s releasing a new double-A-side single, “You Know My Name”/”Wedding Day,” to coincide with her forthcoming UK tour, and the first half of that single is available to hear right now. “You Know My Name” is old-school, no-frills, no-fat punk rock with a huge, knockout hook on the chorus and a perfectly shredded vocal performance that only gets stronger as it gets more ragged. (Frankly, based on this, C-Lo kinda would’ve been the perfect Kurt stand-in at that Rock Hall jamboree.) This, to me, is Courtney at her best — or if not her best, then as close as she’s gonna get 20 years later. Listen.
When Owen Pallett met me poolside at Arcade Fire’s Palm Springs hotel during Coachella’s first weekend, he politely offered me some of his organic sunblock. (Incidentally, the stuff was all over my fingers when Win Butler was suddenly looming over our beach chairs a few moments later, so we bumped elbows rather than shook hands.) A pale-skinned Mississauga native in the California desert needs that kind of defense against the elements, but Pallett’s latest album, In Conflict, finds him letting down his guard. It’s his most personal release and his most aggressive, one in which he trades oblique, fantastical imagery for heartfelt outpourings, and his trademark orchestral arrangements are infused with the kinetic power of a live rock band. The album is as gorgeous and carefully constructed as anything he’s done, yet Pallett has never sounded rawer.
In the 17 years since the release of 1997′s Static & Silence, London indie-pop greats the Sundays have basically lived up to that album’s title. Having essentially retired from music so that singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin could focus on raising their two children, they rarely give interviews and never release new material. But they’ve surfaced again in American Airlines inflight magazine American Way of all places. A new feature interview in the mag features an email exchange with Wheeler and Gavurin in which they reveal they’ve been working on music. In response to a question about where they might be willing to play a reunion show, the couple offered this response: “The contentious bit unfortunately is the reunion gig — first let’s see if the music we’re currently writing ever sees the light of day, and then we can get on to the enjoyable globe-trotting-meets-concert-planning stage.” Incidentally, they also said they’d be excited to play shows in new exotic locations such as Aruba, Fiji, and Baltra in the Galapagos rather than returning to places they’ve already performed. “Beyond that, of course, we might have to look at whether any of these destinations would have an audience for The Sundays over and above the odd tortoise or triggerfish. Nice to think about, though.”