Around the NPR Music office we all swear like a twee version of Veep — but on-air and on-website we receive a tiny electric shock every time we try to spell out our favorite dirty words. (That's not true, but it's funny to think about.)
SZA's CTRL is here, a resolutely confident and skillful R&B album that explores the notions of control and honesty, with thoughtful features from Travis Scott ("Love Galore"), Kendrick Lamar ("Doves In The Wind") and Isaiah Rashad ("Pretty Little Birds"). And it almost didn't happen.
I can see it now: Late summer, half-tipsy in the back of a cab at the end of a humid night, awkwardly making eye contact with other passengers in similar or more alcoholically dire situations. (What's that, half-price frosé all night? Better you than me.) Then a droning beat lulls me into that half-awake space? OK, whatever, another pop song on the radio.
Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star of our hearts, voices Odette in the animated film Leap!, which will see U.S. distribution in September. Her character is a caretaker who coaches a young girl (voiced by Elle Fanning) to become a ballerina in Paris. I sense whimsy and heartfelt speeches are in my future.
Hundred Waters' music tugs like a loose thread, every shifting emotion illuminated by synths and beats that tug just a little harder. The electronic trio has always been on curiosity on OWSLA, the label founded by Skrillex, but a tempering presence.
When the reunited LCD Soundsystem played five nights at Brooklyn Steel in early April, the band brought along two new songs, delighting a legion of dedicated followers who have been clamoring for new material. Well, now James Murphy and company will release those songs at midnight — "and I mean, literally, midnight," he writes in a lengthy post on Facebook (embedded below). "Wherever you are.
Beyonce's year-end favorite, life-encompassing Lemonade will be thoroughly documented in a $300 collector's edition How To Make Lemonade box set. It will feature the album as a double-LP, with additional audio and visual downloads — oh, and a 600-page coffee table book with behind-the-scenes photos, a foreword written by Dr.
Kero Kero Bonito's Bonito Generation was not only the cheeriest pop record of 2016 but also one of the year's best. Spend 10 minutes with the trio's hyper-caffeinated, but no less thoughtful electro-pop and your day is automatically brighter.
GAS isn't really meant for the club, but that's where I first heard it — a cavernous basement was hosting a night of experimental music, the definition of which was determined by the DJ. It sounded and felt like a symphony buried underground, beats programmed from a different galaxy. Pop didn't change the landscape of ambient music — it evolved its purpose, its tone, its movement.
Bands reunite and it's not really a big deal anymore. Pavement's done it, like, 12 times already. Chicago's Riot Fest has made a regular habit of bringing back the '80s and '90s year after year, and scored some nice coups (The Replacements, Glenn Danzig with Misfits, among them). But here's one that no one in the punk scene saw coming: Jawbreaker.
Katie Crutchfield has been nothing but honest as Waxahatchee. Her careful words carry keen insight — and she writes sharp songs to match. Waxahatchee's fourth album, Out In The Storm, takes a hard look not just at broken relationship, but also at the spiraling aftermath.