Shut Up, Already. Damn!

As ubiquitous as Prince was in the 1980s (you could not escape the reach of his brilliant songs if you tried) I’ve always been a little behind the rest of the crowd when it comes to fully appreciating much of his work. I had 1999 on cassette back in 1984, I thought it was pretty […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #2

2. FKA twigs, Magdalene (Young Turks) Although it was completely understandable that it took Tahliah Barnett five years to put out a full-length follow-up to 2014’s LP1 – she experienced a crushing end to her long-term relationship and then underwent surgery to have six fibroid tumours removed from her uterus – the music world was […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #12

12. FKA twigs, “Cellophane” Four long years after the outstanding M3LL155X EP, FKA twigs announced her much-awaited return in triumphant fashion with the aching ballad “Cellophane”, a song seemingly inspired by her engagement to actor Robert Pattinson and the racist remarks made by cruel Twilight fans (just another reason to avoid that series). That engagement […]

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The Best Tracks of 2019, #14

14. Charli XCX w/ Christine & the Queens, “Gone” Charli XCX’s hotly anticipated album Charli was a mild disappointment, but “Gone”, her collaboration with Héloïse Letissier, was one of a handful of inspired moments. A sublime marriage of Charli’s futuristic take on pop music and Christine & the Queens’ much funkier sound, “Gone” sees both […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #2

2. Robyn, “Missing U” “Can’t make sense of all of the pieces of my own delusions,” Robyn sings on her masterful comeback single, “Can’t take all these memories / Don’t know how to use ‘em.” In one sense, it’s the classic Robyn narrative that permeated such classic singles as “Dancing on My Own” and “Call […]

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The Best Albums of 2018, #2

2. Christine and the Queens, Chris (Because) Back in 2015, I was at the Osheaga fest in Montreal and went to check out a new artist called Christine and the Queens on one of the side stages. Because she was French and had achieved some trans-Atlantic success in Quebec, she drew a sizable crowd, and […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #5

5. Christine & the Queens, “Girlfriend” In one audacious three and a half-minute track Héloïse Letissier, as her alterego Chris, obliterates any and all gender norms on the stupendous “Girlfriend”. Atop an ebullient arrangement that’s equal parts New Jack, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson (lotsa jacks) Chris is the sexual aggressor, full of desire but […]

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The Best Albums of 2018, #6

6. Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth (Young Turks) It’s easy for me to understand the annoyance hardcore jazz fans felt when music publications and casual jazz listeners – dare I say, “tourists” – gravitated en masse toward the heavily-hyped new album by Kamasi Washington. I totally get it. When I’m in public and hear someone […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #8

8. Ariana Grande, “thank u, next” Man, pop music in 2018 was weird. Make no mistake, artists selfishly using their status to gain the upper hand in the court of public opinion is as old as songwriting itself (sorry, as brilliant as “Idiot Wind” is, Dylan pulled the jerk moves to end all jerk moves […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #10

10. Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel” Since Janelle Monáe got her start as a protégé of Prince, it’s hardly a surprise that her first single from the fabulous Dirty Computer album owes a great deal to ‘80s prince. From the rubbery synths, to the unabashed sexiness, to the intimate tone that evokes “Kiss”, the Prince […]

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The Best Tracks of 2018, #14

14. Zara Larsson, “Ruin My Life” With well over one billion streams (what’s that, ten bucks in royalties?) Zara Larsson is quickly ascending to pop star status, and her first single since 2017’s So Good sets the stage for global domination. There’s not much to the song – it’s textbook songwriting dynamics with cool skittering […]

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Honourable Mentions of 2018

The best of the rest, in alphabetical order: Amorphis, Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast) I’ve said it plenty of times before, but Finland’s Amorphis have become one of the most enduring metal bands of the last quarter century, and they continued their sterling post-2005 run with a 13th album that showcases their strengths masterfully: dynamic […]

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The Best Albums of 2017, #10

                    10. Haim, Something to Tell You (Sony) My fondness for Haim coincided with my own unprecedented interest in classic album oriented rock from the ‘70s and early-‘80s. For some crazy reason, stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, and Toto have clicked in my head in […]

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The Best Tracks of 2017, #10

10. Kelela, “LMK” As strong as Kelela’s debut album Take Me Apart is, “LMK” is the one track that grabbed my attention the most. The hook is terrific (“All you gotta do is let me know”) but the production is spectacular, following the lead of fka twigs: ominous bass synth, skittering, glitchy percussion, and crystalline […]

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