The best albums of 2020, last call

We reach the end. I could’ve played with the order any which way. For a while I slotted Eternal Atake as my top pick. 4. Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake No one knows where the stresses will land when Lil Uzi Vert freestyles; figuring out how the metaphors unfurl almost always surprised me withContinue reading “The best albums of 2020, last call”

The best albums of 2020, part four

The most conventional set of my top twenty, but even I couldn’t resist RTJ and Fiona Apple. 8. Chloe x. Halle – Ungodly Hour The originality of their metaphors and the bounce of their mostly self-produced beats doesn’t let up on this duo’s sophomore album. 7. Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts Blasting the forgotten “PleasureContinue reading “The best albums of 2020, part four”

The best albums of 2020, part three

Doncha wish a Rolling Stone editor had paired John Anderson and Dua Lipa for one of those musician-on-musician interviews? 12. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia In the early days of the pandemic, stuck at home when our energies hadn’t adjusted to the global deceleration, I turned to virtual dance parties and happy hours. The thoughtContinue reading “The best albums of 2020, part three”

The best albums of 2020, part two

Onward! 16. Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide “On several worthwhile albums, listeners walked through the gnat clouds of Ian Bavitz’s lyrics, irritated that they penetrated the ears, the nose, every exposed surface. This listener came away impressed but unmoved. Perhaps living as if doomsday were more than a possibility has softened my attitude.Continue reading “The best albums of 2020, part two”

The best albums of 2020, part one

A weird fuckin’ year. While I won’t pretend to what extent the presidency of Donald J. Trump created novel contexts for some of these choices, 2020 wasn’t the first time I found aesthetic and psychological — they’re synonymous for me — fulfillment with a deluxe dance record. Finding refuge in the roads early in theContinue reading “The best albums of 2020, part one”

Ya gotta move: Róisín Murphy, Lydia Loveless, Bill Callahan

In this month’s reviews, I couldn’t have imagined I’d juxtapose a dance artist’s determination to use the genre for introspective (and performative) ends with albums by a pair of singer-songwriters. Róisín Murphy – Róisín Machine “A private restaurant serving every dish I want/But I want something more,” she prays on her fifth album’s midpoint, soContinue reading “Ya gotta move: Róisín Murphy, Lydia Loveless, Bill Callahan”

Is The Chicks’ ‘Gaslighter’ adequate to the times?

Evidence has shown an altered sense of time at the height of quarantine. Gossip and chance remarks shared with friends were in fact gossip and chance remarks shared with friends in my dreams. To plan meals represents a minor triumph over the autocracy of the twenty-four-hour day. As a result, Ottessa Moshfegh looks like ourContinue reading “Is The Chicks’ ‘Gaslighter’ adequate to the times?”

To move or not move: Jessie Ware and Phoebe Bridgers

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure In 2012, she released Devotion, whose sleek electronic settings charmed listeners who wanted erotic yearning sung by a Real Voice that wasn’t Adele’s. Her followup two years ago was more of the same but slower. By 2017’s Glasshouse her ambitions were fast ossifying into mimicking late 2000s Annie Lennox.Continue reading “To move or not move: Jessie Ware and Phoebe Bridgers”

Forging an identity: Bob Dylan’s ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’

No artist has herniated so rapturously about Key West: not Wallace Stevens or Ernest Hemingway, not Jimmy Buffett, certainly not what Bertie Higgins did for sister island Key Largo either. “The land of light,” he rasps, like an honorary member of its chamber of commerce, reading from what sounds like a trade publication: bougainvillea bloomsContinue reading “Forging an identity: Bob Dylan’s ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’”