January 21, 2020

Arcade Fire – Everything Now - Columbia

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 12, 2017

It’s disco but not entirely ’70s. Synthesized but not cold. Derivative, but in a purposeful (if not always successful) way. Arcade Fire chose an often-derided musical era to influence their latest set, and while some choices prove worthy twists on those sounds (“Put Your Money on Me”), others fail awkwardly (“Chemistry,” in dire need of a good fast-forward). Would a little more studio time have leveled the whole thing out? Maybe — but the ’70s certainly weren’t level, so perhaps that was the point. ** ½ 

Ride – Weather Diaries – Wichita Recordings
Ride, the ’90s shoegaze band out of Oxford, England, returned to live performance back in 2015 and finally eked out this comeback album last month — its first in 21 years. How well the band seamlessly shifts into today what could’ve been a very dated, trapped sound is impressive. Ride’s trademark, glittery, beat-driven layers simmer underneath compelling melody lines that have been given a modern-day refresh. It all works perfectly on catchy power-pop tracks like “Cali,” “Charm Assault,” and “All I Want.” ***

Lupe Fiasco – The Cool – Atlantic
Fiasco’s landmark album celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and this re-issue is a must-have, not only because of that striking press onto sharp, translucent vinyl but also because this is an strong, cohesive set that deserves to be revisited. If you’re not familiar, think Mos Def backed by The Roots but with Fiasco’s own distinctive flow on tracks like “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” “Go Go Gadget Flow,” “Superstar” (featuring Michael Santos), and the title track; it’s both a good intro to Fiasco and a stand-alone standout. ***

The Heliocentrics – A World of Masks – Soundway
The UK funk outfit is back for its fourth go-round, injecting its usual funky approach with some psychedelia and taking the unusual (for them) step of including lyrics on half of the tracks. The album builds connections as it moves forward, with highlights along the way including “Square Wave” and its loping rhythm section. By the time you reach the concluding track, “The Uncertainty Principle,” its easy to see that the band had this entire itinerary planned out and was just hoping you’d listen along. ** ½



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