JANELLE MONAE- DIRTY COMPUTER
Third album by the extremely talented Janelle Monae, combines a pop sensibility with an experimental, futuristic sound and outspoken politics and a myriad of genres; R&B, rap, soul, funk, dance-pop and 80’s style New Wave. Influences include Prince, Bowie, Janet Jackson, Chic & P-Funk. “Dirty Computer” takes a look at our modern surveillance state and especially at what it means to be a minority (in Monae’s case black and queer) living under it. Its messages are life-affirming and badass rather than heavy handed and the album is a blast of a listen start to finish. Standouts include Prince-homage “Make You Feel”, the pro-female anthem “Pynk (Feat. Grimes)”, the hyper sexual “I Got The Juice” and politically dead on “Django Jane” and “Americans”.
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PARQUET COURTS- WIDE AWAKE!
Fourth album by Brooklyn-based, smart and sardonic punk band Parquet Courts continues their winning streak with their most diverse offering yet. Produced by Danger Mouse, “Wide Awake” alternates between some of the groups loudest and angriest music yet like “Almost Had To Start A Fight”, “Violence”, “Total Football” and the title track with warmer, mellower tracks like “Mardis Gras Beads” and “Tenderness”. This music nods back to NYC art-punk but is lyrically of the moment and feels brand new.
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FATHER JOHN MISTY- GOD’S FAVORITE CUSTOMER
Father John Misty’s fourth full-length, “God’s Favorite Customer” is a much briefer and more pleasurable effort than the epic but execessive “Pure Comedy”. As per usual Misty matches melody with wit and sings like a 1970’s golden-voiced God. He comes off here as more empathetic than on the often hopeless and dire “Comedy”. Standouts include lead single “Mr. Tillman”, “Hangout At The Gallows” and “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest Of Them All” on a remarkably consistent album and are all among FJM’s best songs in an increasingly impressive body of work.
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FLASHER- CONSTANT IMAGE
Debut album from political D.C. punk band who sound more like a blend of early 80’s post punk & new wave. “Constant Image” is a short album, all killer & no filler with punchy hooks. Philosophically taking stabs at an array of social injustices, Flasher’s anger is palpable but it goes down smoothly. One of the best debuts of the year and though its sound is nothing new, Flasher also sounds like nothing else now.
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KAMASI WASHINGTON – HEAVEN & EARTH
“Heaven And Earth”, saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington’s second full-length release (after his three disc debut “The Epic” and excellent “Harmony Of Difference EP” is another astounding musical accomplishment by one of modern jazz’s leading lights. Though certainly not as long as “The Epic”, “Heaven And Earth” is a two disc set lasting over two hours with not an ounce of mediocrity on it. It’s a concept album with two distinct sides- “Heaven” is now Washington experiences the world inwardly while “Earth” represents the outward world. External vs. internal. The weight and breadth of “Heaven And Earth” are a throwback to progressive jazz albums of the early 1970’s such as Miles Davis and Weather Report. I’ve loved everything Washington has put out and “Heaven And Earth” is his best yet and one of 2018’s best albums.
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