Review: ‘High Expectations’ is Mabel’s #hotgirlsummer Gift to All

ICYMI, 2019’s been UK singer Mabel’s year of niche-carving in the Brit-pop world: that which makes room for a glossy-voiced alloy of sweet-and-sour pop and tropics-dipped Dancehall. Daughter of famed Swedish singer-DJ-rapper-songwriter Neneh Cherry, the 23-year-old artist caught late-Spring/early-summer radio attention with singles “One Shot”, “Mad Love”, and “Cigarette [feat. RAYE & Stefflon Don]”, and…

Review: Chance The Rapper – ‘The Big Day’

The Big Day, Chance The Rapper’s passionate first dive into studio albumdom, feels as much zealous Sunday service as it does a grinning reveal of a tireless whiz kid’s first science project. “If you blink you might miss it, you gotta click it or ticket/You gotta go get to gettin’ before it’s gone…”, implores Chance…

Review – Yuna x ‘Rouge’

“Baby, now my vision’s clear, things will never be the same…you were just a phase, my dear, you were just growing pain…”, shrugs Yuna on Rouge. It’s the first of many calm affirmations on the singer’s newest work, which is evident of nothing but a 30-something woman’s blooming wisdom from love and letdown. If not with…

Review – Revenge of the Dreamers III x J. Cole, et al.

Revenge of the Dreamers III, J. Cole + label-mates’ newest baby, arrives at somewhat of a lull in Gen-Y underground hip-hop. The 18-track compilation is not a chain-dripping, high-profile release à la DJ Khaled (i.e. the artist-stacked Father of Asahd) but a quirky, seeming lovechild of tireless mix-board nerds born of the 90s hip-hop aesthetic who pass out…

Review: Drake-‘Views’

The wait for Views was really, really painful. Tardiness aside, let’s start with the skyrocketed hope for an album that instead plummeted with a false alarm: the passable-but-might-be-pile-of-throwaways otherwise known as If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. A cruel travesty at the least. Yes, “Know Yourself” might have singlehandedly sparked the Summer ’15 W.O.E. movement and repeated…

Review: Justin Bieber-‘Purpose’

Bieber. The ‘love-to-hate/hate-to-love’ poster child of tatted rebellion and shaggy blonde angst, and likely, the worst-case model for premature fame-exposure. Flash-forward a year and a half from the mop-bucket antics, suburban speed racing, and general face-palming idiocy, and here we have his apology; a belated, side-eyed, hit record one…but a subtle peace offering at that….

Review: Neon Indian-‘VEGA INTL. Night School’

Sweaty, deep-house digressions, blurry disco lights, and a lo-fi, synthpop kind of tipsy: it’s the sensory overload that Alan Palomo and the rest of Neon Indian chains to you. Though in somewhat subtle of means and small of doses, they’ve actually been administering this since 2009. VEGA INTL. Night School arrives two years after the band’s…

Review: Disclosure-‘Caracal’

It’s a thin ice business, skating the layer of EDM between fluffy, radiopropriate Dance music surface and the offbeat, sometimes tedious House-trenches that lie just below. It’s easy to crack through the layer and surrender to an icy swallow of mind-numbing repetition, ‘vanilla’ synthetic instrumentals, and general aimlessness under the guise of edgy minimalism. DJs…

Review: Jamie xx-‘In Colour’

While the complex, tangled niche of EDM largely aims for the suppression of exterior noise, maximizing listener zone-out, UK house mastermind Jamie xx has found a way to amplify it, bringing it brilliantly to life and—more importantly—our attention. Cranking up the world’s volume around us, he invites in both its harmony and discord, through sound and…

Review: Nao x ‘February 15’ EP

Every once in a while, an offbeat Gen-Y gem surfaces from UK’s EDM scene. [See: Disclosure, AlunaGeorge, Lulu James]. In this case, it’s semi-newcomer Nao: the London-based electro songstress/producer with a knack for splashy beats and gritty funk vocals. Her sophomore EP, February 15, catches more attention than her first–and arrives uniquely at a time when…