Sonic Youth, They Might Be Giants, and Ice-T livened up a numb 1986

To commemorate 60 years of the Billboard Hot 100, Off The Charts revisits each year since it was established to spotlight songs and artists that didn’t make the cut, yet still made a significant impact. Years are chosen randomly and—to make it even harder on ourselves—rules for inclusion are that neither the songs nor…

Don’t let the preposterous flood of major rap releases make you forget Jay Rock

B+

It’d be hyperbolic to say this has been the biggest month in hip-hop history, but the sheer wattage of Beyoncé and JAY-Z, Kanye West, Nas, Kid Cudi, Drake, Future, and Pusha T all releasing major new efforts within the span of a month has to be something of a record. This is not even taking into account the regular…

Nine Inch Nails, Kamasi Washington, and more albums to know about this week

Bad Witch is a thin, if rewarding, listen from Nine Inch Nails; while Kamasi Washington’s cinematic soul-jazz is more ambitious than ever on the awe-inspiring Heaven And Earth; and Gang Gang Dance turn in a somewhat too-impeccable sixth LP with Kazuashita. These, plus Martyn and The Orb in this week’s notable new…

Everything Is Love is big enough for Beyoncé and JAY-Z both

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It’s tempting to view Everything Is Love as the conclusion of a trilogy begun with Lemonade, Beyoncé’s revelatory 2016 exploration of JAY-Z’s infidelity. But that narrative didn’t need a sequel, let alone a trilogy; it was self-contained, resolution and all. Jay told his side of the story on last year’s sober, soulful …

The spirit of 1993 is alive in a legendary rapper’s jazz album

It is still possible, in 2018, to come across people who insist that hip-hop is some sort of “lesser” form of music. I know this because honest-to-god adults have said it to my face, quite earnestly. It’s all samples, they’ll cry, with no one actually pressing fingers to frets, no one reading sheet music! Rapping is…

Melody’s Echo Chamber, Rolling Blackouts CF, and more albums to know about this week

Melody’s Echo Chamber pushes its warped psych pop to new lands on Bon Voyage, while Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever debuts with the dreamy, mature Hope Downs, and Chromeo strikes the right balance on fifth LP Head Over Heels. These, plus Immersion and The English Beat in this week’s notable new releases.

Comedian Dave Hill's "band" Witch Taint finds the inherent humor in black metal

Comedian Dave Hill has one of those vaguely familiar faces to TV watchers; maybe you recognize his hangdog expression from his small but recurring role as the Creep in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, or from when he popped up as the Bookstore Man in the “Tale From The Crypt” episode of The Tick. Hill hides his face behind…

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Gram Parsons, Betty Davis, and Neu! punctured the bloat of 1973

To commemorate 60 years of the Billboard Hot 100, Off The Charts revisits each year since it was established to spotlight songs and artists that didn’t make the cut, yet still made a significant impact. Years are chosen randomly and—to make it even harder on ourselves—rules for inclusion are that neither the songs nor…

Lykke Li, Zeal & Ardor, and more albums to know about this week

Zeal & Ardor forges an exhilarating new sound on second LP Stranger Fruit; Lykke Li turns inward on the hit-or-miss So Sad So Sexy; and bedroom pop gets a hi-fi makeover on Snail Mail’s full-length debut, Lush. These, plus Angélique Kidjo and Lily Allen in this week’s notable new releases.

Ye won’t change your mind on Kanye

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In a way, Ye is what everyone wanted. The word “Trump” appears nowhere on the album. Kanye only acknowledges his risible claim that “slavery was a choice” obliquely, and with regrets (“I ain’t finna talk about it another four centuries”). He doesn’t attempt to fit the hateful rhetoric of his YouTube thought leaders in…

Father John Misty, LUMP, The Dreebs, and more albums to know about this week

Father John Misty reaches the apex of hopelessness on God’s Favorite Customer, while Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) embrace the surreal on LUMP, and New York no-wavers The Dreebs take pleasure in the claustrophobic on Forest Of A Crew. These, plus catching up with A$AP Rocky’s recent Testing in this week’s…