It’s week 32 of ’19. I’m downloading records on Tidal based on name recognition or album covers that intrigue me, only. Some artists I have a history with and some I’ve never heard of. This is how I discover as I trek through the new music landscape.
- Album: Drake – Care Package
- Previous knowledge: His previous album and sooooo many radio tunes
- Review: Any way you look at it, Drake will go down as one of the most successful artists of my generation. He’s the all time solo leader in number of songs that hit the Billboard Top 40 and probably by the end of his career, will have the most Top 40 of all time. I read the other day that since his debut on the charts in May 2009, he’s been on it every week since. That’s either pretty amazing or evidence that he will pimp himself out on pretty much any track from anyone. Let’s just stay positive and call it a strong work ethic and loving what you do. That said, it’s not like he’s putting out crap either.
Care Package is actually a compilation of previously released songs but not hits, rather promo songs released before or between records that were never available to buy or released on streaming sites. I’m supposing that true fans would have already heard all of these then but for me, this might as well be a new record. And…it’s Drake. I mean, the dude isn’t going to break any new ground at this point, what works for him are clean beats, some rapping, some R&B and a lot of true talent to make each song sound exactly like what you’d expect from Drake. To that extent, I don’t feel I really need to say much more.
- Rating: 8.5/10
- Album: Tisakorean – Soapy Club
- Previous knowledge: None
- Review: Everything about this album intrigued me. From whatever the hell a Soapy Club is to the album cover in which is a cartoon of a boy floating in a pool, to track titles like “Soapy Situations” “Double Dare (Soapy Anthem)” to “Frito Lays,” “Chilli Dogs” and “Watermelon Booty.” But there’s surely no reason for me to be intrigued any longer.
Tisakorean is an eclectic rapper that is seemingly trying to make a career out of songs about…you know…soap. Can’t say I’ve heard that one before. When he’s not singing about things related to soap, he’s shoulder shruging rapping choruses like “chips. Frito Lays. Chips, Frito Lays.” The beats he uses are very sparse, mostly created using one finger on a keyboard that could have been make in the 90s, the 2000s or today and by someone that’s 5-years-old. And while a bit unique in his style, he also kind of sounds like he’s recorded his middle school raps while lying in bed. Every time I think we can’t get any lower in hip-hop, a Tisakorean pops up.
- Rating: 0/10
- Album: Mabel – High Expecations
- Previous knowlege: None
- Review: This young lady with a grandma name is actually the daughter of Neneh Cherry and producer Cameron McVey, so she grew up in a pretty eclectic musical family. And I suppose with how different her Mom’s career was, the “high expectations” for me would be that she’s break new ground kind of like Neneh did with “Buffalo Stance” back in the 80s. However, that doesn’t happen here. High Expectations is a decent enough pop album but it doesn’t stand out in any way at all. There’s no doubt that Mabel has a great voice but it’s a voice that could come from any one of 50 singers right now and there’s no way in a blind listen, you’d be able to identify who sings these tracks. Same thing with the music. All the beats are perfect, radio-friendly dance pop or vaguely hip-hop ballads with nothing on the record that screams out for more spins. This is about as middle ground as radio-pop gets in 2019.
- Rating: 5/10
- Album: Berlin – Transcendance
- Previous knowledge: Albums 2-4 back in the 80s.
- Review: Well, the name of the album is a bit misleading here. I saw the dance part of the title and figured this was going to upbeat dancey synth-pop but from the opening moments of the lead track, “I Want You,” you get plodding beats and a darker snyth-pop sound, very similar to their original style in the 80s. But in the 80s, Terry Nunn, John Crawford and David Diamond were young and energetic and willing to take some chances. Now they are old and divorced and kind of sound like they are going through the motions a bit. The best songs on Transcendance are the ballads, with “On My Knees” being a true highlight. But attempts at upbeat tunes fall flat and a rerecording of “Sex (I’m a…”) turned into the kind of dance song I expected the album to be, really doesn’t work well in context here. There’s a good EP in here somewhere but as a full album it needs a pulse.
- Rating: 6/10
Albums ranked 10/10 so far in 2019 (ordered only by release date)
- Terror Jr. – Unfortunately, Terror Jr
- Emily King – Scenery
- Good Fuck – Good Fuck
- The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
- UB40 – For the Many
- Griz – Ride Waves
- Pup – Morbid Stuff
- Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
- Howard Jones – Transform
- Mavis Staples – We Get By
- Prince – Originals
- Yeasayer – Erotic Returns
- Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn off the News (Build a Garden)
- Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants of the Sun
- The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
- K. Flay – Solutions
- Tuxedo – Tuxedo III
- Dorian Electra – Flamboyant